Ric Locke, on what he calls the Soviet Union’s Potemkin space program, and the American response thereto:
[I]t was important for international prestige that the United States establish that it could do it bigger, better, and with flashier paint jobs. This was duly accomplished, and although the budget for it was huge by any other standard, in comparison to the GDP or even the Government budget of the United States it was trivial. The United States could go to the Moon on pocket change and walking-around money; the USSR never got there at all, despite depriving its people of many comforts in order to try.
It might have been better if American politicians of the time had noted that Nikita Sergeyevich [Khrushchev] was being squired around in a ’57 Packard with Cyrillic badges. The Soviet Union, from inception to end, was like the Western towns in old movies tall imposing front, little better than huts behind the façades. There is no doubt the space program was a magnificent achievement, but it came at a cost that wasn’t measured in money and hasn’t really been accounted for to this day.
What won QOTW status here was the reference to the ’57 Packard which, as fans of lost automotive marques will recall, was a rebadged and retrimmed Studebaker, a desperate attempt at maintaining two brands by a company that at the time couldn’t even afford one. Come to think of it, they could have called it the Packard Potemkin.