Moscow (AFP)

Russia reacted on Sunday to the successful launch of an American SpaceX rocket to the International Space Station (ISS), promising to test two new rockets in 2020 and resume its lunar program next year.

These comments from the Russian space agency Roskosmos come after the historic take-off in Florida on Saturday of a rocket from the private company SpaceX which took two American astronauts to the ISS, ending a nine-year Russian monopoly on human spaceflight to the Station.

"We do not intend to remain inactive. This year we will test two new rockets and next year we will resume our lunar program," Roskosmos spokesman Vladimir Uustimienko reacted on Twitter.

Roskosmos boss Dmitri Rogozin said the day before that Russia was planning a test launch of a heavy Angara rocket in the fall, supposed to replace the aging Proton launchers, but which are developing very slowly.

He also said that Russia is accelerating the development of its intercontinental ballistic missile Sarmat intercontinental, presented as supposed to overcome all kinds of missile defense systems.

Since 2011 and the end of the American space shuttle program, the sending of American astronauts on the ISS could only be carried out on Russian Soyuz vessels.

According to specialists, Roskosmos bills instead $ 80 million, a significant windfall for the space agency with an annual budget of about two billion dollars.

Roskosmos said on Sunday that the United States still needs Russia. "It's really important to have at least two options for getting to the station. Because you never know ..." said Ustimienko.

A source of immense pride during Soviet times, the Russian space sector has encountered serious difficulties since the fall of the USSR in 1991. The past few years have been marked by several corruption scandals and a series of failed launches, including one concerned a manned flight, fortunately without consequence for the two astronauts who had been able to eject.

© 2020 AFP