More than 50 Years of NASA Wake-Up Songs
November 25, 2022 12:40 PM   Subscribe

As far back as Gemini 6, NASA has used music to wake astronauts - and robots - to start their day. From Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra to Puccini and Rachmaninov, from the Beatles and the Rolling Stones to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Weird Al Yankovic, from the Ramones to the Everly Brothers to ABBA, NASA crews have woken up to meaningful and whimsical music. Archivist Colin Fries compiled a chronology of Wakeup Calls for NASA (89-page PDF). Previously.

"I Have a Dream" by ABBA has been played for at least three astronauts.

The reasons for playing specific songs for Spirit and Opportunity (pp 84-89) are especially delightful:

Sol 6: Get Up, Stand Up, by Bob Marley. (Lift mechanism actuated.)
Sol 53: Dust in the Wind by Kansas, with the anticipation of possibly capturing dust devils spinning across the Martian surface.

Sol 20: I Like Dirt, by Red Hot Chili Peppers; The Pioneers of Mars, by Landa/Linsley (MI/MB and drive.)
Sol 38: Have You Ever Seen the Rain? by Creedence Clearwater Revival in honor of the confirmation that liquid water once flowed through the rocks at Meridiani Planum.
posted by kristi (7 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
I was inspired to search for this after seeing Good Night Oppy and loving the delightful wakeup songs they talked about in the film.
posted by kristi at 12:40 PM on November 25, 2022 [2 favorites]

This is wonderful! I'm still reading through it but this stuck out as particularly interesting and memorable:

After the Columbia space shuttle’s successful inaugural round trip in April 1981, NASA asked Jim if the Muppets would record wake-up calls that would play for the astronauts on the second shuttle voyage launching that November 12th. The astronauts had a great affection (and professional admiration, no doubt,) for the crew of the Swinetrek from The Muppet Show. Captain Link Hogthrob (Jim), First Mate Piggy (Frank Oz), and Dr. Julius Strangepork (Jerry Nelson) were the clear choice to do the job. With input from a group of NASA astronauts, Jerry Juhl wrote five scripts for the five day mission. The team at mission control on the ground, including the pioneer Sally K. Ride, no doubt enjoyed waking Commander Joseph Engle and Pilot Richard Truly with personal ribbing from the Swinetrek crew. In the brief bits, Piggy, Link and Strangepork managed to make some truly terrible jokes (Richard Truly!) and personally teased the orbiting crew. In reference to the fact that this was the first time in history that a spacecraft was making a return trip into outer space, when Miss Piggy suggested that Strangepork’s joke had been used before, he responded, “It doesn’t matter. So has their spacecraft!”

After the launch, Jim received an autographed commemorative photo inscribed “To Capt. Hogthrob, F.M. Piggy & Dr. Stangepork. Thanks for your help and may the Swinetrek and the Columbia cross paths again.” Jerry Juhl and his wife (and fellow Fraggle writer) Susan became friends with Sally Ride who oversaw the wake-up call program.
posted by ElKevbo at 1:31 PM on November 25, 2022 [9 favorites]

The classical selections for Gemini 7 are lovely and Kubrickian.
posted by doctornemo at 2:15 PM on November 25, 2022

The first two entries mention 'new lines' to 'Hello Dolly' and 'Time to Get Ready for Love' being prepared for the crews, and, whether or not it's true, I'm going to tell myself that the astronauts got a space-travel-specific verse, like the Gemini missions were Funkmaster Flex mixtapes.
posted by box at 2:40 PM on November 25, 2022

As far back as Gemini 6, NASA has used music to wake astronauts, and far back as the early 21st century I hoped they soulx finally share the secrets of the eight-hour-encased caffeine, dexedrine, or modafnil time-release capsules.

I think the best exposition we ever got was the specifics of scop-dex. (scopolamine-dexedrine to fight space sickness.)
posted by Sunflowers Beneath the Snow at 4:06 PM on November 25, 2022

Still used to this day! The trick is you use just a tiny bit of scopolamine per your stimulant. 'Devil's Breath' Drug Scopolamine Used By NASA and CIA
posted by Sunflowers Beneath the Snow at 4:14 PM on November 25, 2022

The PDF only goes up to 2015, but the tradition of wake-up songs continues. For example, for the SpaceX Crew-2 mission last year, ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet selected the shittyflute cover of A-Ha's Take on Me for flight day 2 on the way to the ISS, as noted on Reddit.
posted by sigmagalator at 4:18 PM on November 25, 2022 [1 favorite]

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