On Monday, the space shuttle Atlantis took off from its Florida launching pad on its new eleven-day mission to repair the Hubble Telescope, with the first of five spacewalks scheduled for Thursday as it seeks to (in official NASA lingo) "refurbish, restore and renew" the old stargazing equipment.
While the Atlantis may not exactly be boldly going where no man has gone before, this latest shuttle adventure does have one pretty hip thing going for it: its "wakeup music" playlist for the onboard astronauts, which is being unveiled each morning with appropriate hoopla by the good folks down at mission control in Houston. On their first full day out, for example, the crew awoke to 3 Doors Down's "Kryptonite," (whose lyrics include the line "I took a walk around the world…")
On Wednesday, it was Jack Johnson's "Upside Down" (which notes that "This world keeps spinning, and there's no time to waste").
No word yet what the rest of the Atlantis' playlist will include on this mission, but believe it or not, NASA has a long and well-documented history of "Space Music," going all the way back to the mid-1960s and the start of the earth-orbiting Gemini program. Of course, back in those far more conservative days, the soundtracks veered towards standards and show tunes tunes like "Come Fly With Me" and "On A Clear Day (You Can See Forever)," as well as old-school patriotic fare such as "Stars and Stripes Forever" and "Anchors Aweigh."
In more recent years, however, things have loosened up significantly on NASA's airwaves. Just this past March, for example, the STS-119 mission's eclectic mixtape included everything from ABBA ("I Have A Dream") and Johnny Cash ("I Walk the Line") to Metallica ("Enter Sandman") and the Grateful Dead ("Box of Rain" ). In fact, the NASA website even features a chronology of all its musical highlights over the years.
The nearly 80-page document includes info on just about everything heard on a NASA spacecraft--including, perhaps most notably, Paul McCartney's in-concert performance of the Beatles' "Good Day Sunshine" as a live wakeup call for the crew of expedition 12 in 2005.
All told, pretty out there.