Mir's Untold Tales

After 15 years in orbit, the durable space station is finally returning--carrying a cargo of stories with it

If you ever flew aboard the Mir space station, you'd know how important it was to urinate on the barbed wire surrounding the launchpad before you went up. If you were especially thorough, you might want to douse the wheels of the bus that carried you to the pad too.

Nobody called this prelaunch ritual by anything like its proper name. What people called it was "checking the laces"--a reference to the practice early cosmonauts had of tightening their space suits' laces before flight. When laces disappeared from modern suits, the checking did too, but superstitious crews needed something to take...

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