Moon landing: NASA’s bizarre Apollo 11 pre-flight ritual still honoured after ...

On July 20, 1969, NASA successfully completed their Apollo 11 mission to the Moon. Neil Armstrong became the first man to step foot on the lunar surface, shortly followed by Buzz Aldrin. The event brought the world to a standstill as millions watched anxiously on live TV, before Armstrong delivered his legendary “one small step” speech that marked the end of the Space Race with the Soviet Union.

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Four days earlier, on July 16, the Saturn V rocket blasted out from the Kennedy Space Centre on Merrit Island, Florida at 1:32pm.

Before they said goodbye to the Earth for eight days, Armstong, Aldrin and Command Module pilot Michael Collins sat down for one final meal.

The trio tucked into a breakfast of steak and eggs, washed down with coffee, before a slice of cake to celebrate the monumental event.

However, it was no mistake.

The Apollo 11 astronauts had a pre-flight ritualThe Apollo 11 astronauts had a pre-flight ritual (Image: GETTY)

Neil Armsrtong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael CollinsNeil Armsrtong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins (Image: GETTY)

Missile men are kind of superstitious in many ways

Dean Dreftly

This is a tradition started by Alan Shepard eight years earlier when he became the first American man in space.

The high protein meal was designed to fill him up while being low residue enough that he wouldn't need to relieve himself for a few hours.

Shepard's flight that morning was NASA's first, the suborbital Freedom 7, and it was a striking success. 

So much so that the traditional pre-launch breakfast became steak and eggs for all the astronauts.

Last night, during a BBC 2 Moon landing special of “Stargazing”, an employee at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station revealed how, over time, even more rituals are being added to the pre-flight warm-up.

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The overall process now takes more than four hours, but astronauts are extremely superstitious.

Dane Dreftly, Launch Complex 41 Tower Chief, detailed how some astronauts now urinate on the back tire of the bus that drops them at the launch pad.

This, again, is a signal to another pioneer of space travel – Yuri Gagarin – who was the first human to journey into space.

While on his way to the Soviet launch pad in 1961, Gagarin realised he needed to relieve himself. 

The bus was stopped, Gagarin got off, headed to the back-right tire and did his business.

The Apollo 11 ream ate steak and eggs before launchThe Apollo 11 ream ate steak and eggs before launch (Image: GETTY)

Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the MoonNeil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the Moon (Image: GETTY)

Mr Dreftly explained why it is a fundamental part of every modern mission.

He said: “I am familiar with that

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