Nasa / Space

Geek Trivia: What was the last astronaut wake-up song ever played aboard a space shuttle?

Find out the last song ever used by NASA to awaken astronauts aboard an orbiting space shuttle.

Strange as it may seem, Saturday will mark the first year PSS -- Post Space Shuttle. On July 21, 2011, the space shuttle Atlantis touched down at Kennedy Space Center at the conclusion of STS-135, the 135th and final mission of NASA's space shuttle program.

A number of historical lasts occurred within STS-135, which is to be expected when you retire what is arguably the most recognizable and indisputably the longest running spaceflight program ever put forth by humankind. Setting aside the fact that Atlantis flew with the smallest crew since the maiden voyage of Challenger, STS-135 saw:

  • The final docking of a space shuttle with the International Space Station (ISS);
  • The last spacewalk involving a space shuttle (though no shuttle crew performed the extravehicular activity);
  • The final downmass payload for the foreseeable future, as no other operational or planned spacecraft will have the shuttle's ability to return major cargo from orbit (Atlantis brought back largely broken components from the ISS so analysts could determine the cause of the system failures).

Lost in the technical finalities were a number of sentimental end-chapters for the space program, not least of which was the wake-up song tradition. Since the days of the Gemini program, NASA has used musical pieces as the wake alarms for spacecraft crew, and every shuttle mission has a specific lineup of songs used to signify the start of the astronauts' working day. While the tradition will continue in a certain fashion aboard the ISS, and will likely be adopted on whatever manned spacecraft succeeds the shuttle, never again will there be a musical wake-up call aboard a space shuttle.

WHAT WAS THE LAST ASTRONAUT WAKE-UP SONG PLAYED ABOARD A SPACE SHUTTLE?

Get the answer.

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Jay Garmon has a vast and terrifying knowledge of all things obscure, obtuse, and irrelevant. One day, he hopes to write science fiction, but for now he'll settle for something stranger -- amusing and abusing IT pros. Read his full profile. You can a...

8 comments
Marty-7
Marty-7

Didn't the Dragon return to earth with a payload from the ISS? Granted, it was mostly stuff they didn't care too much about, but it seems like that qualifies as a "downmass payload" - or am I missing something? (Hey, it's Friday...) Glad to see the Geek Trivia column - haven't seen it in a while. :)

rocket ride
rocket ride

"A number of historical lasts occurred within STS-135, which is to be expected when you retire what is arguably the most recognizable and indisputably the longest running spaceflight program ever put forth by humankind." Longest running? Really? What about Soyuz? Soyuz-1 (launch) 4/23/67 STS-1 (launch) 4/12/81 (Funny, I didn't notice at the time the nod to Yuri Gagarin's flight on 4/12/61.) STS-135 (landing) 7/21/11 Soyuz (last landing) ? (hasn't happened yet). So far, Soyuz has outlasted the Shuttle by nearly fifteen years. And counting. -- Paul

vitec
vitec

Kate Smith's rendition of "God Bless America" concluded shuttle wake-up calls for STS-135 and the entire program on July 21, 2011. Credit: RCA Flight Day 14 - July 21, 2011 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.

Jay Garmon
Jay Garmon

...the shuttle was unique in that it could do free orbital downmass capture -- it could snag standalone satellites never intended to perform reentry and bring them safely to ground. Technically, every time an astronaut returns to earth he or she is "downmass" so every spacecraft has downmass payload capacity, but the shuttle was a rather unique cargo hauler. I should have been more clear.

Jay Garmon
Jay Garmon

...but Soyuz has had a number of fits and starts, not least because the country that started it -- the USSR -- hasn't existed for 20 years. Soyuz-designated capsules have been around since the 1960s, but it's a point of debate as to whether they all belong to one, uninterrupted program.

rocket ride
rocket ride

I think that as a series of machines Soyuz is unquestionably a continuum. As computer and other electronic gear got better they did upgrade, but then, so did the operators of the STS. So that's a wash. As a series of political/economic gestures it can be argued either way. But I think that the technological continuity trumps the lack of political continuity, so, yes, I'm going to retain my original opinion

Jay Garmon
Jay Garmon

...but then I'll go a month without great feedback like this. Suffice it to say, if the Quibble was still running, this would earn a mention.