Why Russian cosmonauts urinate on a tire before going into space

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  • Lucia Blasco
  • BBC World News

Photo caption,

Yuri Gagarin made history in 1961. This photo was taken minutes before takeoff

Yuri Gagarin couldn’t take it anymore: he needed to urinate.

He was in the middle of nowhere, on a highway in southern Kazakhstan, towards the Baikonur cosmodrome, the largest and oldest space base in the world. But the situation was urgent.

With the sphincter contracted, the 27-year-old astronaut asked the bus driver to stop the vehicle at the shoulder. He got out, pulled open the fly of his space suit, and emptied his bladder right into the vehicle’s right rear wheel.

He was about to make history … and become the first human to travel to outer space! But the bland plans of his bladder also played a part in that historic episode.

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