Russia has sparked another space race.
Former NASA astronaut Scott Kelly mocked Russian President Vladimir Putin’s land-grab in Ukraine last week by announcing on Twitter he’d annexed Mars’ tallest peak.
“I have annexed Mount Olympus on Mars on behalf of me,” Kelly posted — adding, by way of justification: “Just sayin’.”
At more than 13 miles above the Martian surface, Mount Olympus is thought to be the tallest peak in the solar system.
Kelly’s celestial send-up came the same day Putin illegally annexed nearly one-fifth of Ukraine by fiat, following sham votes held at gunpoint in the Ukrainian provinces of Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk and Luhansk.
It’s not the first time Kelly, who famously spent 340 days in orbit aboard the joint Russian and American International Space Station, has tangled with his cosmonaut comrades.
In March, shortly after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine began, the spaceman sparred with Russian space program director General Dmitry Rogozin on Twitter.
After Rogozin tweeted a video of Russians removing the flags of nations opposed to the invasion from a rocket bound for the International Space Station, Kelly shot back.
“Dimon, without those flags and the foreign exchange they bring in, your space program won’t be worth a damn,” the American astronaut wrote in Russian. “Maybe you can find a job at McDonald’s if McDonald’s still exists in Russia.”
The spat continued until Kelly backed off at NASA’s request, CNN reported.
But when the Kremlin ousted Rogozin in July, Kelly was quick to quip that “Tasty and that’s it” — a rough translation of the name of the off-brand fast food chain established after McDonald’s left Russia in protest of the invasion — was hiring.
The astronaut has continued to tweet in support of Ukraine, recently posting in Russian to commend those resisting Putin’s efforts to draft hundreds of thousands of Russian men to the front lines.
And in an acknowledgement of the difficulties facing the Kremlin as its forces lose the territory they’ve supposedly annexed, Kelly followed up his annexation tweet with a reply.