Call it "American Idol" in space: NASA has launched a new contest that allows the public to pick ? or even create ? wake-up songs for astronauts flying on the agency's two final space shuttle missions.
NASA opened its new "Wake-up Song Contest" website Friday to allow the public to choose from a list of 40 previously played songs in the hopes of having it played during the final flight of space shuttle Discovery in November. Voting is going on now here: https://songcontest.nasa.gov/home.aspx
Traditionally, wake-up songs are chosen by an astronaut's family and friends. But with the new website, Earth-bound masses will choose two songs to rouse Discovery's crew during the 11-day mission.
The songs with the most votes win, NASA officials said. Discovery's upcoming flight will deliver a humanoid robot and storage room to the International Space Station.
The project is modeled after NASA's "Face in Space" program which allows the public to send photos of themselves on the final space shuttle missions.
Write a space song
For those with musical aspirations, it gets even more exciting.
NASA is asking for original song submissions for the very last planned shuttle mission aboard Endeavour, which is set to launch Feb. 26, 2011. That 10-day mission will deliver a $1.5 billion astrophysics experiment to the International Space Station.
Contestants must upload their musical stylings to the "Wake-up Song Contest" website by Jan. 10. NASA folks will cull the entries, and the surviving songs will be put to public vote. Again, the top two songs will reach astronauts' ears.
Astronauts are awaiting your input, and your tunes, with bated breath.
"Space shuttle crews really enjoy the morning wake-up music," said Mark Kelly, commander of Endeavour's final mission. "While we don't have the best-quality speaker in the space shuttle, it will be interesting to hear what the public comes up with."
Music in space
This is not the first time NASA has turned to music to reach out to the public.
Earlier this week, NASA teamed up with R&B singer Mary J. Blige to encourage young women and girls to pursue careers in math and science. In 2008, the space agency joined forces with singer Paul McCartney, of Beatles fame, to broadcast the song "Across the Universe," into the cosmos using the Deep Space Network.
NASA has been flying reusable space shuttles into orbit for nearly 30 years and will retire its three remaining shuttles (Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour) next year to make way for a new plan to send astronauts to an asteroid by 2025.
Atlantis flew its last scheduled flight in May and will be primed as a rescue ship for Endeavour's final flight before being formally retired.
There is also discussion in Congress over a possible third shuttle mission, to be flown in summer of 2011.
Earlier this month, the Senate passed a NASA authorization bill that would approve the extra flight. The House is expected to revisit its own NASA bill in September.
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The public can vote or submit a song for NASA's shuttle wake-up music contest here: https://songcontest.nasa.gov/home.aspx