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Astronaut Idol: NASA Calls for Space Shuttle Wakeup Songs

Since the heady days of the Apollo program, NASA has asked friends and family of astronauts to select “wakeup music” for slumbering spacefarers.


Astronaut Gregory C. Johnson rests in his sleeping bag on the space shuttle Atlantis in May 2009.

—Picture courtesy NASA

After all, sunrises are a dime a dozen in low-Earth orbit, and the hyper-chickens from a backwoods asteroid haven’t made it here yet, so astro-workers have to have some way of marking the morning.

With just two scheduled shuttle flights left on the roster, NASA today made the wakeup-song selection a matter of national importance.

Anyone on Earth can vote for their favorites out of a “top 40” hit list, and the two winning songs will get played during the final flight of the space shuttle Discovery in November.

I *just* cast my vote, and I can see that I’m among 8,817 people who’ve done so as of 7 p.m. ET.

I can also see there are three clear leading candidates: “Countdown” by Rush, the Star Trek theme, and “Beautiful Day” by U2. Huh.

Polling closes when Discovery launches, which is slated for November 1—it should be interesting to see if/how the rankings change as word spreads.

Meanwhile, aspiring rock stars are being asked to write and submit their own wakeup songs, with two winners to be played during the last planned shuttle mission, when Endeavour lifts off next February.

NASA will be the judge of song quality for original works, based on:

  • relation to or suggestiveness of human spaceflight;
  • catchy or lasting impression of the song;
  • originality; and
  • overall quality of the song.

One wacky feature on the contest website is the participation map, which is keeping tabs on how many people submit original songs and where they’re based.

So far today there are 27 entries, most from the U.S. and Canada, but also one each from Colombia, Peru, Chile, and Switzerland, and two each from India and Iran.

I wonder if any superstars will toss in a submission or two. Paging Dr. Dre