Into a slideshow celebrating joint US and Russian space projects, NASA administrator Jim Brindenstine slipped one curious example: A mission seemingly carried out with Lego spacecraft.
Speaking in a video recorded in Moscow’s Red Square, Brindenstine listed some examples of US-Russian partnership in space exploration, with overlaid images of the two former space rivals’ joint projects. First up was the Apollo-Soyuz mission, a 1975 project that saw US and Soviet spacecraft dock in orbit, a welcome moment of cooperation at the height of the Cold War.
Brindenstine’s image, however, showed the two docked spacecraft reconstructed in Lego, a gaffe spotted immediately by Ars Technica space editor Eric Berger.
Brindenstine was a good sport about the error, complimenting Berger on his “nice catch,” and attributing the image choice to his “shoestring budget.”
While NASA’s $18.4 billion budget is surely enough to buy a couple of old photographs, the space agency has seen its budget decline since the glory days of the space race. NASA sucked up more than 4.4 percent of the federal budget in 1966, when it spent then was today would be just over $43 billion.
In his video, Brindenstine paid tribute to deceased Russian astronauts, now buried behind the walls of the Kremlin, next to Red Square. The NASA administrator talked of how American astronauts taking off on Russian Soyuz rockets from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan first visit the Kremlin to pay their respects.
“Even though our countries don’t align on everything and our interests are sometimes divergent, we’ve always been able to cooperate on space, and that’s important for the United States, and important for Russia,” Brindenstine said, promising that he wanted more cooperation with Russia, including a joint mission to the moon.
Back on earth, however, the oddities continued. In the closing seconds of Brindenstine’s video message, a passing woman casually stops behind the NASA chief and performs the front splits on the pavement. Only in Russia.
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