Internet points to anyone who can explain what’s happening in this picture:
Apparently, it’s customary for astronauts to be “blessed” by a Russian Orthodox priest before heading to space. The Verge notes that this ritual has been taking place for years now:
Some patriotic Americans might object to the practice but for the US, there’s not much choice. Ever since the Space Shuttle was retired in 2011, NASA has relied upon Russia’s Soyuz rockets and its Baikonur Cosmodrome to transport men and women up to the International Space Station — and a bit of holy water is a small price to pay.
The holy water won’t do anything to make the astronauts safer, of course, but I guess it makes the priest feel good. So there’s that.
(Image via NASA on Flickr. Thanks to Brian for the link)