You wouldn’t think that the world’s foremost scientific agency would be very superstitious, but NASA has some long-standing traditions that they live and breathe by.
Before every launch from the Kennedy Space Center, astronauts eat a meal of steak, eggs, and cake, no matter the hour, and must play poker until the commander loses. They typically also bring along a stuffed animal. Not only is the plush considered lucky, but its fluffy body is a safe enough object to signal when gravity shifts and objects start floating.
Not Just Astronauts
Launchpad engineers believe it’s bad luck for astronauts to see the rocket before launch day, and take great measures to ensure none of the spacemen see their ride during the sometimes days-long journey to the launch pad.
Back at mission control, every shuttle launch was celebrated by a round of baked beans. What started as a single crockpot prepared by test director Norm Carlson, quickly grew into over 60 gallons consumed by the team and dignitaries after every launch.
Launch Bean Recipe
- Put 6 lbs. of dried great northern beans in an 18-quart electric cooler.
- Cut 10 lbs. of smoked ham into cubes.
- Add ham and ham bones to beans.
- Add 1/2 shaker of lemon pepper.
- Add 3 lbs. chopped onions.
- Add two stalks chopped celery.
- Add one tsp. liquid smoke.
- Cover with water and cook for at least 8 hours.
In typical fashion, cosmonauts have some strange space superstitions of their own. Every single person launched into space from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan has peed on a bus tire just before take-off. This unPEElievable tradition started after Yuri Gagarin—the first man to orbit the Earth—took an emergency pit stop on the bus tire in 1961. The mission’s success has rooted the act forever in Russian history.
Female cosmonauts are not required to do their business then and there, but most bring a pre-prepared vial along to pour on the tire.