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Rock Out In Space: NASA Lets Public Pick Wake-Up Songs for Astronauts

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 shuttlemissions.

NASA opened its new "Wake-up SongContest" website Friday to allow the public to choose from a list of 40previously played songs in the hopes of having it played during the final flight of spaceshuttle Discovery in November. Voting is going on now here: https://songcontest.nasa.gov/home.aspx

Traditionally, wake-up songs are chosen by anastronaut's family and friends. But with the new website, Earth-bound masseswill choose two songs to rouse Discovery's crew during the 11-day mission.

The songs with the most votes win, NASAofficials said. Discovery's upcoming flight will deliver a humanoid robot and storage room tothe International Space Station.

The project is modeled after NASA's "Face inSpace" program which allows the public to send photos of themselves onthe final space shuttle missions.

Write a space song

For those with musical aspirations, it getseven more exciting.

NASA is asking for original song submissionsfor the very last planned shuttle mission aboard Endeavour, which is set tolaunch Feb. 26, 2011. That 10-day mission will deliver a $1.5 billionastrophysics experiment to the International SpaceStation.

Contestants must upload their musicalstylings to the "Wake-up Song Contest" website by Jan. 10. NASA folkswill 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 yourtunes, with bated breath.

"Space shuttle crews really enjoy themorning wake-up music," said Mark Kelly, commander of Endeavour's finalmission. "While we don't have the best-quality speaker in the spaceshuttle, it will be interesting to hear what the public comes up with."

Music in space

This is not the first time NASA has turned tomusic to reach out to the public.

Earlier this week, NASA teamed up withR&B singer Mary J. Blige to encourage young women and girls to pursue careersin math and science. In 2008, the space agency joined forces with singer PaulMcCartney, of Beatles fame, to broadcast the song "Across the Universe," into thecosmos using the Deep Space Network.

NASA has been flying reusable space shuttlesinto 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 tosend astronauts to an asteroid by 2025.

Atlantis flew its last scheduled flight inMay and will be primed as a rescue ship for Endeavour's final flight beforebeing formally retired.

There is also discussion in Congress over apossible third shuttle mission, to be flown in summer of 2011.

Earlier this month, the Senate passed a NASAauthorization bill that would approve the extra flight. The House is expectedto revisit its own NASA bill in September.

The public can vote or submit a songfor NASA's shuttle wake-up music contest here:https://songcontest.nasa.gov/home.aspx

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