“Wherever your music is, that’s sort of a version of home,” – Steve Robinonm, astronaut
Some things you come across make you wonder, how I have not heard about this before! That is how I felt when I was listening to the podcast, Stuff from the B Side, “Why does NASA have a morning DJ?” Apparently, there is a long standing tradition for astronauts on shuttle missions to be woken in the morning by song.
The NASA wake up call began early on in the space program as a way to bring sense of normalcy to the morning since the astronauts see the sun rise every 90 minutes. The brief moment of lighthearted fun in a day packed with stress and concentration helps build comradery.
In a-typical fashion, there are not a lot of rules or red tape involved in the song selection. The Capsule Communicator, also known as the CAPCOM, makes the final call on the song but often takes suggestions form others at mission control as well as the friends and family of the men and women in space. Cap Com jumped to the top of my list of dream jobs after hearing about this. How fun would it be to select the musical accompaniment for space travel?!
Maybe I am a little too superstitious but some of the song selections would not bring me much comfort as I sat in a massive shuttle hurtling through space. Which is why songs like, “Great Balls of Fire”, “Burning Love” and “The End,” do not appear on my favorites from the list. The Cap Comm’s that play stuff like that have to be a bit twisted.
For this playlist to come in handy, commercial space travel and winning the lottery will need to happen first. Regardless, I was inspired to put together my favorites from the NASA wake up call list, just in case I get my chance for the ultimate adventure into the final frontier.
- Theme from Star Wars by John Williams
- Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen
- Theme from the Movie 2001, a Space Odyssey
- If ever I saw your face – Roberta Flack (presumably refers to the face of the moon)
- On the Road Again‖ by Willie Nelson
- Rocket Man by Elton John
- Here Comes the Sun – The Beatles
- Eye in the Sky by Alan Parsons Project
- I Feel the Earth Move by Carole King
- Over the Rainbow from The Wizard of Oz by Judy Garland
- Fly Like an Eagle Steve Miller Band
- Back in the High Life by Steve Winwood
- Changes in Attitudes, Changes in Latitudes by Jimmy Buffett
- I Can See Clearly Now by Johnny Nash
- I Can See For Miles by The Who
- Free Fallin’ by Tom Petty
- Space Oddity by David Bowie The “Major Tom” reference is to Tom Henricks the captain on the mission.
- Closer to Free by The BoDeans
- Shooting Star by Bad Company
- Don‘t Look Down by Lindsay Buckingham
- So Far Away by Dire Straits
- MoonRiverby Andy Williams
- Free Bird by Lynyrd Skynyrd
- Venus and Mars by Paul McCartney and Wings
- Beautiful Day by U2
- Mr. Blue Sky by Electric Light Orchestra
- Times Like These by the Foo Fighters
- Supermassive Black Hole by Muse
- Theme from Star Trek
- Your Wildest Dreams by The Moody Blues
On July 15, 2011, the Atlantis crew (final mission in this era of American space travel) woke up to the sweet voice of Sir Paul McCartney serenading them with the Beatles favorite “Good Day Sunshine”. “Good morning guys, wake up! And good luck on this, your last mission. Well done,” McCartney said in a pre-recorded message.