How JPL’s Peanut Tradition Started

A bottle of peanuts in JPL’s mission control on August 5, 2012. Credit: NASA

Last Sunday night, everyone watching NASA’s feed of Curiosity’s landing saw engineers in JPL’s mission control eating peanuts before the rover entered Mars’ atmosphere. Eating peanuts at particularly nerve-wracking points during a mission is a long standing tradition at JPL that dates back to the Ranger program. Specifically Ranger 7. The first peanuts eaten in Mission Control were a distraction for engineers during that very tense launch on July 28, 1964. Read the whole story on Discovery News.


  • Brie says:

    Interesting! I had been wondering about that, after watching the landing. I’m surprised to hear the tradition is nearly fifty years old!

  • Jasper says:

    The biggest fun fact is that the U.S. space program actually is full of there “traditions”, just like the standard astronaut steak and scrambled eggs breakfast before launch, Gene Krantz’s white vests and so on.
    It is not that different from what the Russians do, (such as cosmonauts urinating against the bus wheel on their way to the pad, calling rockets Tanya, not launching on the 24th of October, visiting Gagarin’s office, watching The White Sun Of The Desert, etc.), the only difference is the U.S. call their activities “traditions” and not just superstition.
    But it is the same.
    Here is an interesting article about superstition in the space community:

  • John W Baxter says:

    Thank you for this glimpse of my past. Mother was at JPL (as a physicist/mathematician) in those days (and quite a bit earlier, joining in the ’50s when the lab was much smaller and operated for the Ordnance Corps). She worked on Ranger (including 7). When she started, one drove across the dam. Then the bridge. Then the new bridge. And the newer bridge.

    My peanut addiction began more than a decade before Ranger 7.

    –John Baxter.

  • […] years after JPL started what’s become the tradition of eating peanuts during launches, NASA developed another peanuts-based tradition. This one centers on Peanuts the cartoon strip […]

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