On June 26th, 1993, the crew of the space shuttle Endeavour woke up to the sounds of Madonna’s ‘Holiday’. We now know this thanks to NASA, who have uploaded an 89 page .pdf of the songs that woke their astronauts over the decades – dating all the way back to the early Apollo Gemini missions of the mid-60s. The list is exhaustive, but ultimately a fascinating anthropological glance at how a simple routine – rising to a pop song – evolved with the sounds of the eras. But certain factors remain consistent.
‘You play some lively, peppy bit of music — normally just two minutes of it — and after a pause, you hear some groggy voice on the microphone mumbling, “Good morning, Houston,” Chris Hadfield, chief mission control CAPCOM (capsule communicator), explained to Steve Knopper in 2000. “You don’t want to play a dirge or something uninspiring. You want to get them going in the morning.” Consequently, the selections are usually benign — it’s considered poor form, and possibly dangerous, to freak out a sleeping astronaut with Rob Zombie or Eminem.’ That explains Enya’s ‘Orinoco Flow’, then.