Pancake photo by Miguel Andrade // Rocket photo credit: (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)
Curious Planeteer working to make the Earth's changes visible, accessible and actionable.

The Story Behind Planet’s Legendary Launch Pancakes


Pancakes are a big deal at Planet. Ever since the launch of Flock 1 in 2014—Planeteers have taken to the frying pan in preparation for each launch event.

Originally, the need for pancakes was serendipitous: Planet’s first constellation launch happened at breakfast time on the west coast. The team had been staying up late in preparation for the big event and needed to be properly fueled up for launch. So Planeteers gathered at San Francisco HQ and clutched their plates of stacked hotcakes as they watched the live stream of Dove satellites flying up and away into the great beyond.

After that, Planeteers became sentimentally attached to the practice of eating pancakes, much like how those at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) make sure to eat peanuts at every launch. No matter what time of day the rocket lifts off, or where a Planeteer may be watching from, they always make sure to include pancakes.

When senior machine learning engineer Matt Ferraro was in Prague and couldn’t attend the party for the legendary “88 Launch” (where Planet launched the largest fleet of satellites in history)  he went out of his way to make sure he carried out the pancake tradition.

“I woke up at 3:oo in the morning and went to the grocery store where I couldn’t read any of the labels, desperately trying to find pancake mix,” Ferraro says. “But it was all worth it.”

There’s also a joke that pancakes are actually crucial for helping to get Planet’s satellites into space.

“During our first few launches, we always had pancakes. And then the first launch where we didn’t have pancakes, the rocket exploded!” Ferraro says. “So now we have a running joke that they’re good luck, and should be served at every launch going forward.”

Of course, luck is hardly the only factor in a successful launch. The brilliant minds who make space exploration possible are definitely the ones to thank. Space is hard, but it’s no match for hard work. Or hard work + pancakes.

We’re now getting our spatulas ready for our next launch on the PSLV scheduled for later this month. If you happen to be watching along, consider adding some pancakes to your plate for the full experience.