William Shatner Wakes Shuttle Astronauts with 'Star Trek' Tune

Space shuttle Discovery is seen in cameras as it flies around the International Space Station after undocking for the final time on March 7, 2011 during its last mission, STS-133.
Space shuttle Discovery is seen in cameras as it flies around the International Space Station after undocking for the final time on March 7, 2011 during its last mission, STS-133. (Image credit: NASA TV)

HOUSTON – Astronauts on the space shuttle Discovery got a star-studded wakeup call from Earth today – a long-distance dedication from William Shatner, TV's original Capt. Kirk, set to the "Theme from Star Trek."

"These have been the voyages of the space shuttle Discovery," Shatner said in the pre-recorded wakeup call that mimicked his opening to 1960s "Star Trek" TV series. "Her 30-year mission: to seek out new science, to build new outposts, to bring nations together in the final frontier, to boldly go and do what no spacecraft has done before."

NASA's current shuttle mission, STS-133, is the final flight of shuttle Discovery before the spacecraft is retired later this year.

During shuttle missions, astronaut are regularly treated to a daily wakeup song, which is typically picked for individuals on the crew by their families. For Discovery's final flight, however, NASA held a public contest to choose two wakeup songs for the astronauts on the final days of their mission.

Alexander Courage's theme song from the hit TV show "Star Trek" was the runner up in the agency's online contest. Nearly 2.5 million votes were cast in the contest, which ran from Aug. 20, 2010 to Nov. 1. This morning's wakeup song garnered 671,133 votes, or 27.2 percent.

"That was, I believe, the second most popular selection from the song contest for the space shuttle program," shuttle commander Steve Lindsey said. "I'd like to thank, specifically, William Shatner, for taking the time to record that special introduction for us."

Shatner portrayed James T. Kirk, captain of the starship Enterprise in the iconic science fiction television series and films.

Participants in NASA's "Top 40 Song Contest" voted from a list of 40 songs that have previously awakened shuttle crews. The winning song, "Blue Sky" by Big Head Todd and the Monsters will be played for Discovery's astronauts tomorrow morning, on the last full mission day prior to the shuttle's landing. [The Astronaut's Playlist: Groovy Songs for Space Travelers]

Discovery is scheduled to land for the last time at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Wednesday (March 9) at 11:57 a.m. EST (1657 GMT) after a 13-day mission to the International Space Station.

You can follow SPACE.com Staff Writer Denise Chow on Twitter @denisechow as she covers Discovery's final space voyage from NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. Visit SPACE.com for complete coverage of Discovery's final mission STS-133.

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Denise Chow
NBC News science writer

Denise Chow is a former Space.com staff writer who then worked as assistant managing editor at Live Science before moving to NBC News as a science reporter, where she focuses on general science and climate change. She spent two years with Space.com, writing about rocket launches and covering NASA's final three space shuttle missions, before joining the Live Science team in 2013. A Canadian transplant, Denise has a bachelor's degree from the University of Toronto, and a master's degree in journalism from New York University. At NBC News, Denise covers general science and climate change.