Description: Cosmonauts on the way to the rocket launchpad stop to urinate for good luck.
Origin: Soviet Kazakhstan, 1961
A cold April morning at Baikonur in Kazakhstan, at what will later be known as the Cosmodrome - but in 1961 it is a top-secret Soviet rocket site. A young cosmonaut named Yuri Gagarin halts the bus taking him to the launchpad, unzips his spacesuit, empties his bladder on its rear-wheel - and founds a space-age superstition that lives on in the modern Russian cosmonaut corps.
Gagarin became the first man in space - and the bus that takes modern cosmonauts to the launchpad at Baikonur stops each time so they can repeat the lucky ritual. Early cosmonauts faced a high risk of being killed in an accident, and needed all the luck they could get: some carried horseshoes and other charms aloft in their capsules.
Yuri Gagarin with young Russians
Note: These superstitions
were researched and written by Stuart Macfarlane (Website:
and Tom Metcalfe (Website:
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