Feature

Text Size

Sounds of the Final Frontier: Wakeup Music of the Space Shuttle’s Final Mission
07.08.11
 
STS135-S-026 -- STS-135 crew members

The STS-135 crew members wave farewell to onlookers before heading for launch pad 39A for the launch of space shuttle Atlantis on the STS-135 mission. Credit: NASA

Use of music to awaken astronauts on space missions dates back at least to the Apollo Program, when astronauts returning from the moon were serenaded by their colleagues in mission control with lyrics from popular songs that seemed appropriate for the occasion.

Usually picked by flight controllers or by crew members’ friends and family members, most wakeup calls are musical, but sometimes include dialog from movies or TV shows. The playlist is eclectic, ranging from rock, country, classical, bluegrass and jazz, to children’s choruses and songs from the countries of international crew members. The recording is usually followed by a call from the CAPCOM in Mission Control, wishing the crew a good morning.

The common element of all these selections is that they promote a sense of camaraderie and esprit de corps among the astronauts and ground support personnel.

Music sent up to wake up the crew of Atlantis on NASA’s last voyage aboard a space shuttle will be posted here each day throughout mission STS-135.



Flight Day 14 Wake Up Song and Greeting:

Kate Smith’s rendition of Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America” woke Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley and Mission Specialists Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim. But unlike most wakeup songs, which are played in honor of a particular crew member, this one was dedicated to all the men and women who have worked for the Space Shuttle Program in the past three decades.

› Watch video
› WAV file (43.8 Mb)
› MP3 file (1.8 Mb)

Past shuttle missions that have included songs by Irving Berlin or Kate Smith:

  • Reveille (bugle call) followed by gunfire preceding "This is the Army, Mr. Jones" by Irving Berlin from the movie, "This is the Army, Mr. Jones" was played during STS-40.
  • Kate Smith sang "Beautiful Ohio" for the wakeup call during shuttle mission STS-70.



Flight Day 13 Wake Up Song and Greeting:

The Flight Day 13 wakeup music was "Fanfare for the Common Man" by Aaron Copland played for Commander Chris Ferguson. It was followed by a prerecorded message from Kennedy Space Center employees. Kennedy is home to the space shuttle fleet, along with its launch pads and the people who prepared the shuttles for each trip into space. Atlantis is scheduled to land at the Shuttle Landing Facility in Kennedy on Thursday.

› Watch video
› WAV file (37.9 Mb)
› MP3 file (1.6 Mb)

  • "Fanfare for the Common Man" by Aaron Copland also was played during shuttle mission STS-41.
  • "Fanfare for the Common Man" by Aaron Copland also was played during shuttle mission STS-61.



Flight Day 12 Wake Up Song and Greeting:

The Flight Day 12 wakeup music was "Don't Panic" by Coldplay, which was played for Pilot Doug Hurley. This was the last wakeup song played for a shuttle crew while docked to the International Space Station. Coldplay's “Viva la Vida” was the wakeup music for the crew on Flight Day 2.

› Watch video
› WAV file (30.1 Mb)
› MP3 file (1.3 Mb)



Flight Day 11 Wake Up Song and Greeting:

The Flight Day 11 wakeup music was "Days Go By" by Keith Urban, which was played for Mission Specialist Rex Walheim. The song was accompanied by a special good morning message recorded by employees at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX. The NASA center is home not only to the astronaut corps, but also Mission Control and the Space Shuttle Program.

› Watch video
› WAV file (33.1 Mb)
› MP3 file (295 Kb)



Flight Day 10 Wake Up Song and Greeting:

The Flight Day 10 wakeup music was "Celebration" by Kool and the Gang, which was played for Mission Specialist Sandy Magnus. The song was accompanied by a special good morning message recorded by employees at NASA's Stennis Space Center in southern Mississippi, the NASA center that is home to the test stands that verified each of the main engines that helped propel space shuttles into low Earth orbit, including the three used in the STS-135 launch.

› Watch video
› WAV file (25.1 Mb)
› MP3 file (1.6 Mb)

  • "Celebration" by Kool and the Gang also was played during shuttle mission STS-81. › Listen



Beyonce Wake-up Song and Greeting:

Beyonce Knowles The STS-135 crew gets moving on Flight Day 9 with "Run the World (Girls)" after being awakened by a special greeting from songstress Beyonce Knowles. Beyonce also known as Sasha Fierce was born in Houston, also home of the final shuttle astronauts: Chris Ferguson, Doug Hurley, Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim. Beyonce brought it on orbit when “Girls” was played for the entire crew as a tribute to the final shuttle mission and also to women in space: “Good morning Atlantis, this is Beyonce. Sandy, Chris, Doug and Rex, you inspire all of us to dare to live our dreams, to know that we’re smart enough and strong enough to achieve them. This song is especially for my girl, Sandy, and all the women who’ve taken us to space with them and the girls who are our future explorers.”

› Watch video
› WAV file (25 Mb)
› MP3 file (1 Mb)



Sir Paul McCartney Wake-up Song and Greeting:

Sir Paul McCartney Paul McCartney and Beatles favorite "Good Day Sunshine" greet the Atlantis crew of Chris Ferguson, Doug Hurley, Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim first thing on Flight Day 8. Sir Paul and the Beatles’ music have awakened a dozen past shuttle crews. "Good Day Sunshine" was played for two Discovery crews of STS-121 and STS-128. On learning the popular Beatles song was used to rouse the shuttle crew of STS-121, McCartney treated the Expedition 12 crew aboard the International Space Station with a live musical wakeup call during a first-ever concert linkup in November 2005. The wakeup call during which McCartney performed "Good Day Sunshine" and "English Tea," came from McCartney’s "US" Tour performance in Anaheim, California. During the live linkup, McCartney said," I can’t believe we’re actually transmitting to space" as Bill McArthur performed a zero-g flip for the 17,000 Earth bound concert-goers. In an interview about the "Good Day Sunshine" wakeup calls, McCartney said, "I think it hit a chord with American audiences, because…well they’re American, Number 1, and that’s their space shuttle going up there." McCartney and "Good Day Sunshine" hit a chord with the crewmembers of the final space shuttle crew in NASA’s history: "Good morning guys, wake up! And good luck on this, your last mission. Well done."

› Watch video
› WAV file (27.9 Mb)
› MP3 file (1.2 Mb)

› Spaceflight Set the Stage for a Story by Sir Paul
› Paul McCartney: NASA 'Hits a Chord'
› Paul McCartney Wake Up Call

Past shuttle missions that have included use of songs by Paul McCartney and the Beatles:

  • Beatles’ song "A Hard Day’s Night" was played during shuttle mission STS-30.
  • "Birthday" by the Beatles woke up the crew of STS-52, played for Mike Baker in honor of his 39th birthday.
  • "With a Little Help From my Friends" and "A Hard Day’s Night" by the Beatles was played for the shuttle crew of STS-61 in December 1993.
  • Parodies of the Beatles’ "Hello, Goodbye" and "Lay Your Head on my Shoulder" woke up the shuttle crew of STS-71.
  • "Birthday" by the Beatles was played for Tom Henricks’ 44th birthday during shuttle mission STS-78.
  • Beatles’ song "Here Comes the Sun" for Joe Tanner during STS-97. › Listen
  • "Here Comes the Sun" by the Beatles woke up the shuttle crew of STS-108. › Listen
  • Paul McCartney’s and Wings’ song "You Gave me the Answer" was played for Dave Wolf in 2002 during shuttle mission STS-112. › Listen
  • "Here Comes the Sun" by the Beatles woke up the shuttle crew of STS-116. › Listen
  • "Good Day Sunshine" by the Beatles woke up the space shuttle crew of STS-121 in July 2006. › Listen
  • "Here Comes the Sun" by the Beatles was played for shuttle Commander Mark Polansky of STS-127 in 2009. › Listen
  • "Good Day Sunshine" by the Beatles was played for Discovery’s pilot Kevin Ford during shuttle mission STS-128. › Listen



Michael Stipe Wake-Up Song and Greeting:

Michael Stipe The four astronauts of the final space shuttle mission are greeted by R.E.M. front man Michael Stipe and the group’s hit, "Man on the Moon" to begin Flight Day 7. On recording this song for the Atlantis’ last crew Stipe said, “I recorded ‘Man on The Moon’ for NASA in Venice, Italy, where Galileo first presented to the Venetian government his eight-power telescope, and in 1610 wrote 'The Starry Messenger' (Sidereus Nuncius), an account of his early astronomical discoveries that altered forever our view of our place in the universe."

› Watch video
› WAV file (36 Mb)
› MP3 file (2.4 Mb)

› Read more about the wake-up call on the R.E.M. web site

Past shuttle missions that have included use of songs by the band R.E.M. as wakeup music include:

  • “Shiny Happy People” was played for the shuttle crew of STS-58 in 1993.
  • The R.E.M. song “Shiny Happy People” woke the crew of STS-82 February, 17, 1997.



Elton John Wake-Up Song and Greeting:

Elton John Flight Day 6 was kick-started for the STS-135 astronauts with a special wake-up message from Elton John and one of the legendary performer's greatest hits. "Rocket Man" debuted around the time of the Apollo 16 mission, which sent men to the moon for the fifth time. The 4.5-minute song, which describes a long-term space bound astronaut's mixed feelings at leaving his family to do his job, has been played to awaken four shuttle crews aboard Discovery and Atlantis. "Rocket Man" also, one of NASA's top 40 wakeup call songs listed for voter selection during a contest to commemorate the space shuttle Discovery and Endeavour's last missions, earned nearly 5,000 votes from the public. The song inspired by space exploration woke up the final space shuttle crew of Atlantis one last time: "Good morning Atlantis, this is Elton John. We wish you much success on your mission. A huge thank you to all the men and women at NASA who worked on the shuttle for the last three decades."

› Watch video
› WAV file (27.4 Mb)
› MP3 file (1.1 Mb)

Past shuttle missions that have included the famous space rock song "Rocket Man" by Elton John as wakeup music include:

  • During shuttle mission STS-51-A in November 1984
  • During shuttle mission STS-51-D in April 1985
  • During shuttle mission STS-112, “Rocket Man” was included in a medley of childhood songs played for Sandy Magnus from her family. › Listen
  • During shuttle mission STS-120, the song was sent up for Doug Wheelock on the morning of his first spacewalk excursion of his career. › Listen



Flight Day 5 Wake Up Song and Greeting:

The Flight Day 5 wakeup call was “More” by Matthew West played for Mission Specialist Rex Walheim.

› Watch video
› WAV file (33 Mb)
› MP3 file (1.4 Mb)



Flight Day 4 Wake Up Song and Greeting:

The Flight Day 4 wakeup call was “Tubthumping” by Chumbawamba played for Mission Specialist Sandy Magnus.

› Watch video
› WAV file (27.2 Mb)
› MP3 file (1.1 Mb)



Flight Day 3 Wake Up Song and Greeting:

The Flight Day 3 wakeup call was “Mr. Blue Sky” by Electric Light Orchestra played for Commander Chris Ferguson.

› Watch video
› WAV file (28.7 Mb)
› MP3 file (1.2 Mb)

Past shuttle missions that have included the use of songs by The Electric Light Orchestra as wakeup music include:

  • During shuttle mission STS-78 on July 6, 1996, the song “Don't Bring Me Down” by The Electric Light Orchestra was played for the crew.
  • During STS-118, on August 10, 2007, the song “Mr. Blue Sky” by The Electric Light Orchestra also was used as wakeup music for Commander Scott Kelly. › Listen
  • During STS-126, Nov. 27, 2008, the song “Hold on Tight" by Electric Light Orchestra was played for Mission Specialist Heidemarie Stefanshyn-Piper. › Listen



Flight Day 2 Wake Up Song and Greeting:

The Flight Day 2 wakeup music was “Viva la Vida” performed by Coldplay, a song picked by STS-135 Pilot Doug Hurley. The song was accompanied by a special good morning message recorded by employees at NASA’s Marshall Spaceflight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, the NASA center that has managed the Space Shuttle’s solid rocket boosters, main engines and external tank throughout the program’s history.

› Watch video
› WAV file (42.8 Mb)
› MP3 file (1.8 Mb)

Past shuttle missions that have included the use of songs by Coldplay as wakeup music include:

  • During shuttle mission STS-121, on July 10, 2006, the song “Clocks” by Coldplay was used as wakeup music for STS-121 Mission Specialist Piers Sellers. › Listen
  • During shuttle mission STS-127, on July 29, 2009, the song “Yellow” by Coldplay was used as wakeup music for Pilot Doug Hurley in honor of his International Space Station fly-around. › Listen
  • During shuttle mission STS-133, on March 2, 2011, the song "The Speed of Sound" by Coldplay was used as wakeup music for Pilot Eric Boe. › Listen



› View a chronology of NASA wakeup music

More information on the wakeup song tradition is available in an article written during the mission that returned the shuttle to flight following the Columbia accident, STS-114 in July 2005. › Read article

NASA held public contests for both favorite wakeup songs from the past and for original songs during recent shuttle missions STS-133 and STS-134. › More information

For more information about the STS-135 mission visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/shuttlemissions/sts135/index.html