May 23rd, 2012
09:12 AM ET

Russia's spacey superstitions

When the shuttle program ended almost a year ago, America became unable to send a man to space, so now the U.S. has to rely on others, and that means the Russians. And that can be a little scary.

In the past year Russia's space program has had a series of close calls and even crashes. So before a recent liftoff, Russia invoked a higher power. OK. But that is far from the only superstition that comes into play at Russia's Cosmodrome.

Tradition says that the crew gets haircuts two days before launch and they drink a glass of champagne on launch day. And the final superstition, as Yuri Gagarin did before he became the first man in space in 1961, they relieve themselves on the wheels of the bus that carries them to the launch pad.

Let's see if it works.

Related: Unmanned private rocket launches

Topics: Last Look • Russia • Space

soundoff (57 Responses)
  1. CC

    What a worthless article

    May 23, 2012 at 11:02 am | Reply
    • mike

      You clicked on it.

      May 23, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Reply
    • JOM

      I agree. completely worthless. except when I read your response and almost choked.

      May 23, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Reply
    • thegayblade

      I actually enjoy useless trivia; it sure beats the other "news." =)

      May 24, 2012 at 7:28 am | Reply
    • ilyaka

      i agree total crap, cold war smell is still in the air

      May 24, 2012 at 8:46 am | Reply
  2. Claude Gothic

    I hope they mean #1 only and not #2...

    May 23, 2012 at 11:04 am | Reply
    • Brent Jatko


      May 23, 2012 at 11:16 am | Reply
      • Frank Lo

        Hey Brent! What's up? Funny article...

        May 23, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • ensense

      Actually the record of the space shuttle is worse then the Russians in terms of manned launches. The proton and soyuz are the most reliable rockets around. Having said that having to rely on Russia for launching American astronauts is a little embarrassing though.

      May 23, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Reply
      • Bill

        It is not germane to compare the Proton or Soyuz to the shuttle. The shuttle's weight, mission capability and complexity are far greater than the Proton or Soyuz. The Atlas and Delta rockets would be a closer match to capability, and their reliability record is very similar to Proton/Soyuz.

        May 23, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
      • The Truth

        Actually the record is even. Two incidents with loss of crew for Soyuz (Soyuz 1 and 11) and two incidents with loss of crew for the space shuttle (Challenger and Columbia). Since the shuttle holds more people more were lost. In terms of number of space flight disasters there are only two for each. If you want to split hairs the Soyuz has a worse space flight record since one of the disasters actually killed the crew in space while the others happened in the atmosphere.

        May 24, 2012 at 10:23 am |
  3. j. von hettlingen

    Already in the old days of the Soviet Union Russians sought comfort in their customs which were more often seen as supersition.

    May 23, 2012 at 11:15 am | Reply
    • Norm

      These rituals were the only comfort they had if you consider the poor safety standards the Soviets subjected their cosmonauts to.

      May 23, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Reply
      • svann

        There have been more US deaths than Russian.

        May 23, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
      • TAK

        Svann, while your statement is true it is somewhat misleading. There have been 135 shuttle missions with two accidents resulting in 14 fatalities. There have been (I believe) 113 Soyuz flights thus far, also with two accidents but resulting in four fatalities. The shuttle usually flew with seven crew (though as little as two and as many as eight). Most Soyuz flights have had two or three crew (though sometimes just one). So I'd say the safety record for both is very similar. But when something happened to a shuttle, more people were in danger.

        May 23, 2012 at 11:09 pm |
    • Andrey

      Already in the old days of the American Europeans sought recognition in their "smart comments" which were more often seen as stupidity.

      May 25, 2012 at 12:47 am | Reply
  4. Everett Wallace

    What in the world?

    May 23, 2012 at 11:44 am | Reply
  5. Bill C

    Read a book called "Too Far from Home". It details many more Russian pre-flight rituals... and you're right. This really was a worthless article.

    May 23, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Reply
  6. Quigley

    I admire the Russians and their space program. In fact, had not all the German top flight rocket scientists and engineers come to America right after WW2, the Russians would still be ahead of us in space.

    May 23, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Reply
    • Norm

      If Bush wouldn't have bankrupt our country on two useless wars...we would be building bases on Mars by now.

      May 23, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Reply
      • Yakobi

        But if we were able to expel all the idiots like Norm to North Waziristan, we'd be prospering today.

        May 23, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
      • stanton

        I could not agree more,you are so right!!!!

        May 24, 2012 at 8:30 am |
      • stanton

        I couldn't agree more, with you NORM, YOU ARE SO RIGHT!!!!!!

        May 24, 2012 at 8:36 am |
  7. Imperious Leader

    I'm sorry, did I miss the rest of this article? The "teaser" article sounded interesting 😛

    May 23, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Reply
  8. DOD

    So what is this article about? About useless writers at CNN?

    May 23, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Reply
    • Norm

      Why don't you just go back to Fox.
      Oh can't post your ignorant filth there anymore.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Reply
  9. AlexShch

    F u * k CNN and Fareed Zakharia

    May 23, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Reply
    • AlexShch

      The above not to offend anybody, but to check CNN censorship filter program. I gues, I am blacklisted as an internet hooligan. Ok, it passes through. Let's now try to post something more meaningful:

      As far as the general state of decline of Russian space industry, the rumor are slightly exaggerated. Year-after-year Russia conducts more space launches than the rest of the World altogether combined. By a significant margin.

      During this year alone (up to May 23) nine 9 launches have been completed.
      The last one took place on May 17, Proton M launches SS Loral's Nimiq-6 satellite into geostationary orbit.
      One-before-last was on May 17 (same day, but several hours before) a Soyus with with surveillance satellite took off from Plesetsk.
      Before that a manned Soyuz took off on May 15.
      Before that another Proton with commercial satellite to geostationary orbit on April 24.
      Another Soyuz with Progress cargo ship to Int. Space Station on April 20.
      Another Proton carrying surveillance satellite on March 30.
      Proton launching Intelsat-22 into geostationary orbit on March 25.
      Proton launching NNS-14 into geostationary orbit on February 14 (this launch was delayed twice, originally scheduled Nov. 2011).
      Another Soyuz carrying cargo ship to Int. Space Station on January 26.

      The next flight is scheduled on June 1, a commercial satellite to geostationary orbit to be launched by Zenit-3SSL.
      The next commercial Proton launch is scheduled somewhere in June.
      The next manned Soyuz flight to ISS is scheduled in July (the exact date is not announced yet).

      Russia had completed a total of 24 space launches in year 2011, 21 of which were successful and 3 failures.

      May 23, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Reply
    • Norm

      Why don't you just go back to Fox.
      Oh can't post your filth there anymore.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Reply
  10. OtherSF

    We need Newt Gingrich leadership. lol

    May 23, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Reply
    • stanton


      May 24, 2012 at 8:40 am | Reply
  11. soulcatcher

    In America you use rocket fuel.
    in Russia, we drink champagne and then pea rocket fuel before launch.

    May 23, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Reply
  12. MassiveMarbles

    Your scientific methods are quite admirable. Now, we know why NASA has failed. Please make a note of the date the next female cosmonaut goes up, I'd like to get a picture of that 🙂

    May 23, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Reply
  13. lol obama bin worthless ladin

    america are the dolts that ended their space program without researching new vessels ahead of time... now we rely on the russians. thank goodness that the dragon capsule will hopefully fulfill the role. we need to keep active in space and keep progressing to catch the minds of young people and aspire them to become engineers, physicists, scientists, and more. the space program is quite important. its too bad the administration can't see the light. i was pro obama when he started, but now i just want him gone. but there are no good candidates to replace him... the GOP are a bunch of backwater, dark age mindset woman haters. unbelieveable. should we just all let anarchy rule in 2012?

    May 23, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Reply
    • Norm

      Awwwww....whats the matter Foxtard.
      Mommy shut down the comments areas over at Racist Central?

      May 23, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Reply
    • sean


      May 23, 2012 at 9:48 pm | Reply
  14. Norm

    Strange article considering we just had our first commercial launch....what....yesterday?
    America can restart the space program anytime it wants.
    Oh BTW....has everyone noticed all the Obama bashing Foxtards here at CNN since Fox shut down it's comments sections?
    LOL....pathetic...they must be going crazy.
    Crazier than normal that is..........
    I knew it was just a matter of time before the FCC shut that circus down.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Reply
    • Yakobi

      Now how would you know unless you're a libtard lurker on Fox? Typical left-wing hypocrite.

      May 23, 2012 at 5:22 pm | Reply
  15. RFH

    Sounds like American professional baseball. I wonder what they'd do with two on and two out in the bottom of the 9th....

    May 23, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Reply
  16. Tuco Ramirez

    We aren't the country we used to be. We are more concerned about how people 'feel', instead of leaping forward in science and business. To America, it is more important to be fat and embrase the fringe elements than focus on what should come first. Our current administration has spent more money that any previous, and our homeless population grows and are left to fend for themselves. We are broke financialy and moraly.

    May 23, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Reply
    • Patrick-2

      Quite true, Tuco. We spend far to much on our military machine and foreign aid because of the control that the M.I.C. has on both Congress and the White House and as a result, we'll remain perpetually broke!

      May 23, 2012 at 7:15 pm | Reply
      • Tuco Ramirez

        I think it is as much the American character, the average home-owner is too lazy to mow their own damn lawn. Gotta pay to have someone do our dirt. Compare today with the fall of the Roman Empire.

        May 24, 2012 at 12:16 am |
    • sean

      still the greatesst nation on earth...IF we stop sending jobs overseas so corporations can save more $$; its quite simple evenutally usa will be consumed by her own greed....wake up usa before its too late...and btw 4 MORE YEARS

      May 23, 2012 at 9:51 pm | Reply
      • Andrey

        After Chinese...
        Sorry! It is not if, it is when...

        May 25, 2012 at 1:07 am |
  17. ss

    who the hell wrote this article. I thought Freed was smarter than this; he is dumber than Greta.

    May 23, 2012 at 7:44 pm | Reply
  18. What

    Slow news day?
    CNN – The Most Trusted Name in crappy news.

    May 23, 2012 at 9:07 pm | Reply
    • Maersk

      CNN stands for China Negative News. It has a lot of those typical American kwok zucking kwok zuckers employed as writers to bad mouth China. They love to accuse the Chinese for hacking into their azz and stealing their virginity.

      May 25, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Reply
  19. Maurice

    Wow, I agree. we definitely spend way too much on our military machine! Blast obama for starting all those wars and spending trillions of dollars on "defense"!

    May 23, 2012 at 9:48 pm | Reply
  20. Earl Weaver

    Gotta love it!

    May 24, 2012 at 8:00 am | Reply
  21. ilyaka

    And the idea of this crappy article is?????

    May 24, 2012 at 8:44 am | Reply
  22. leah1026

    Please tell me the female cosmonauts had more sense than that.

    May 24, 2012 at 10:06 am | Reply
    • Andrey

      I wish Soviets have sent you instead of "Belka and Strelka" dogs in the test stage of their space program. Wasted some good smart doggies – with tons of sense, compared!

      May 25, 2012 at 1:03 am | Reply
  23. Zoglet

    more smug foreigner bashing.

    May 24, 2012 at 11:34 pm | Reply
  24. Andrey

    I would like this CNN correspondent to try to relieve himself "on the wheels of the bus that carries them to the launch pad" being in the space suit and in front of the farewell party! The man is intellectually challenged!

    May 25, 2012 at 12:57 am | Reply
  25. Troolly

    something crazy but not the article

    May 25, 2012 at 4:27 am | Reply
  26. Archy Bunka

    Article stinks, but he has one point. Russian confidence is serious flagging. Ever serious mishap gets blamed on the United States.

    1. Fall of USSR. American capitalist plot, details are lacking, but they know we did it. The fact that they had a Premier who failed the Political Reform 101 class, notwithstanding.

    2. The loss of the Kursk submarine. The Kursk couldn't have possibly blown up all by itself due to a defective torpedo, there must have been an American submarine in the area that crashed into it.

    3. The recent loss of Russia's interplanetary satellite. American radar brought it down.

    4. Most recently, the loss of the Superjet 100 that crashed in Indonesia was caused by American interference using some kind of an EMF device. The fact that we know the air traffic controller in Indonesia approved the aircraft to descend to 6000 feet, with a 7000 foot mountain in front of them, in bad weather, had nothing to do to it.

    You remember the Indonesia flight controllers. They were the ones that allowed a BA 747 to fly through a volcanic plume 50,000 feet high, twice.

    And finally, the protests in Russia are an orchestrated campaign by the USA to discredit Vladimir Putin. The fact that Putin plays a shell game between the presidency, and prime minister positions every few years has nothing to do with the discontent.

    So, Russia has her problems, and a decided campaign to blame the United States for everything that goes wrong, thereby avoiding responsibility, is one of them.

    May 25, 2012 at 11:14 pm | Reply
    • Andrey

      Congratulations! Your comment stinks too! And I could not even find the point!

      May 26, 2012 at 12:37 am | Reply

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