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Astronaut Twins Mark and Scott Kelly Scramble Earth's Lights in Alexa Super Bowl Ad

A new Amazon advertisement, which aired during yesterday's Super Bowl (Feb. 3), shows twin astronaut brothers Scott Kelly and Mark Kelly accidentally causing worldwide power blips in an event nicknamed "The Incident."

Near the end of the 90-second ad, Scott Kelly floats over to a panel on the International Space Station as he listens to Amazon's "Alexa" automated virtual-assistant service say, "Powering up, powering down, powering up, powering down."

"She says she's doing it, but I don't see anything," the astronaut yells. "Do you?" [As Seen on TV: These Commercials Were Filmed in Space!]

From outside, Mark Kelly is shown on a spacewalk. He looks down at the Earth and sees the alarming sight of entire regions full of lights turning on, then turning off, then turning on, then turning off. "Holy …" he remarks.

The ad doesn't make it clear if the Kelly brothers (who, in real life, both retired from NASA after an extensive list of missions, including Scott Kelly's nearly yearlong stay on the International Space Station) were responsible for the fictional scenario. At the beginning, two people in an Amazon cafeteria chat about the challenges of implementing Alexa in various platforms. "Then there was The Incident," a woman employee says. "Wait, that was you guys?" asks a male colleague. The woman responds, "I don't know. Was it?"

The woman admits to several "fails" with the Alexa beta-testing program, which the commercial also portrays. Harrison Ford — known by space geeks for his roles in "Blade Runner" and "Star Wars" — struggles with a version of Alexa embedded in his dog's collar. Every time the dog barks, Alexa orders more dog food. Ford yells at the dog and chases it up the stairs, insisting that the dog pay for the order. After several large bags of dog food quickly arrive at the door, Ford mutters to the guilty dog, "I'm not talking to you."

Then, there was the Alexa embedded in a toothbrush. Forest Whitaker — who featured prominently in 2016's alien flick "Arrival" — orders Alexa to play a podcast. All goes well until the actor puts the toothbrush in his mouth, which muffles the sound and causes him to lose track of the conversation. "I guess I'm going back to earbuds," the star lamented on Twitter.

"Not everything makes the cut," Amazon says in the commercial's tagline. 

The commercial first ran on Jan. 30 as part of a Super Bowl blitz, just one day before Amazon reported its third record profit in a row, citing Alexa as key to the company's improved performance, according to The Guardian

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Elizabeth Howell
Elizabeth Howell is a contributing writer for who is one of the few Canadian journalists to report regularly on space exploration. She is pursuing a Ph.D. part-time in aerospace sciences (University of North Dakota) after completing an M.Sc. (space studies) at the same institution. She also holds a bachelor of journalism degree from Carleton University. Besides writing, Elizabeth teaches communications at the university and community college level. To see her latest projects, follow Elizabeth on Twitter at @HowellSpace.