Last Space Shuttle mission: Help NASA pick the wake-up tunes

August 21, 2010

How about, “The Party’s Over” for the very last Shuttle wake-up call?

Press release from NASA, August 20, 2010:

RELEASE : 10-193

NASA Asks Public for Final Shuttle Missions’ Wakeup Songs

HOUSTON — If you like music, the space program and are a little nostalgic, NASA has the perfect opportunity for you. For the first time, the public can help choose songs to wake up the astronauts during the last two scheduled space shuttle missions.

Traditionally, the songs played to wake up the astronauts are selected by friends and family of the crews. For the last two scheduled missions, NASA is inviting the public to visit the “Wakeup Song Contest” website to select songs from a list of the top 40 previous wakeup calls or to submit original tunes for consideration. To vote or submit a song, visit:

The two songs with the most votes from the top 40 list will be played as crew wakeup calls on the final scheduled flight of space shuttle Discovery. Discovery’s STS-133 mission is targeted to launch on Nov. 1.

“We’re looking forward to hearing which songs the public wants played for us,” STS-133 Commander Steve Lindsey said. “It’s going to be a difficult choice, because there have been so many great songs played over the years.”

Original songs must have a space theme and be submitted to NASA by 4 p.m. CST on Jan. 10, 2011. The songs will be reviewed by agency officials and the top finalists put to a public vote. The top two songs will be used to wake space shuttle Endeavour’s STS-134 crew.
Endeavour’s mission is the last scheduled space shuttle flight. It is targeted to launch on Feb. 26, 2011.

“Space shuttle crews really enjoy the morning wake-up music,” STS-134 Commander Mark Kelly said. “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. We are looking forward to it.”

The song contest campaign follows NASA’s ongoing “Face in Space” project. It invites the public to send electronic images of their faces into orbit aboard one of the final remaining space shuttle missions. To submit your image, visit:

For more information about the Space Shuttle Program and the STS-133 and STS-134 missions to the International Space Station, visit:

For more information about the space station, visit:

– end –

Ken Ham and Atlantis

May 16, 2010

Uh-oh.  Did P. Z. Myers see the name of the commanding officer of the space shuttle Atlantis on the current flight, STS-132?

Short press release from NASA:

Sun, 16 May 2010 06:48:08 -0500

Commander Ken Ham [emphasis added] and the crew of Atlantis performed the Terminal Initiation burn at 7:40 a.m. EDT, firing the left Orbital Maneuvering System engine for nine seconds to place the shuttle on the final path for its 10:27 a.m. docking to the International Space Station. When Atlantis is about 600 feet from the station, Ham will maneuver Atlantis through a backflip rotation to expose the heat shield to station crew members who will use digital cameras to photograph Atlantis’ upper and lower surfaces through windows of the Zvezda Service Module. Oleg Kotov will use a 400mm lens, and T.J. Creamer, Soichi Noguchi and Tracy Caldwell Dyson all will use 800mm lenses. The photos will be transmitted to Mission Control for evaluation by imagery experts and mission managers to determine whether the heat shield sustained any damaged during launch.

Not only is it not the same Ken Ham, I’ll wager they are completely unrelated, and that they’ve never met.  I wonder how the astronaut lives with people confusing him with the Ken Ham of the creationism cult.  Perhaps creationists stray into the real process of space exploration so rarely that no one has made the connection yet.

Ken Ham, creationist

. . . this Ken Ham, who doesn't "believe" in much of the science that gets the other Ken Ham into orbit.

Ken Ham, commander of Space Shuttle Atlantis, on STS-132 - NASA photo

This Ken Ham, the astronaut (NASA photo), is not to be confused with . . .

Remembering Christa McAuliffe: Teacher talks with North Carolina school kids, from space

April 13, 2010

Sometimes progress is so strong that we forget to note the milestones.

I’m remembering Christa McAuliffe today.

Tomorrow, April 14, Mission Specialists Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger is scheduled to talk with students at Eastern Guilford High School in North Carolina, and all of the 71,000 students in Eastern Guilford School District.

Astronaut Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, former teacher - NASA photo

Caption from NASA: STS-131 Mission Specialist Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, attired in a training version of her shuttle launch and entry suit, poses for a photo prior to the start of an ingress/egress training session in the Space Vehicle Mock-up Facility at NASA's Johnson Space Center. Photo Credit: NASA

Metcalf-Lindenburger is one of three teachers selected in 2004 as astronauts.  NASA is committed to help education out.  After the Challenger disaster, and the death of “teacher in space” Christa McAuliffe, NASA finally determined to make teachers into astronauts rather than fly “civilians.”

Bittersweet, but there it is.

Press release from NASA:

Stephanie Schierholz
Headquarters, Washington

Jenna Maddix
Johnson Space Center, Houston

Haley Miller
Guilford Public Schools, Guilford, N.C.

April 12, 2010


Orbiting Space Shuttle Astronauts — Including Former Teacher — Call North Carolina Students

WASHINGTON — Astronauts orbiting 220 miles above Earth will speak with students in Gibsonville, N.C., on Wednesday, April 14. The call with the students and space shuttle Commander Alan Poindexter and Mission Specialists Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger, Stephanie Wilson and Clay Anderson will take place at 1:06 p.m. EDT at Eastern Guilford High School in Gibsonville.

Eastern Guilford High School is hosting students from Eastern Guilford Middle School, Gibsonville Elementary, McLeansville Elementary, Rankin Elementary and Sedalia Elementary for the downlink. The school also will broadcast the event to the entire Guilford County Schools district, which serves more than 71,000 students.

The astronauts launched Monday, April 5, aboard space shuttle Discovery from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. During the 13-day mission to the International Space Station, the crew will deliver science experiments and supplies; take three spacewalks to switch out a gyroscope on the station’s truss, or backbone; install a spare ammonia storage tank and return a used one; and retrieve a Japanese experiment from the station’s exterior.

Metcalf-Lindenburger is one of three teachers selected to fly as shuttle mission specialists in the 2004 Educator Astronaut Class. She operates the shuttle’s robotic arm. Without robotics, major accomplishments like building the station, repairing satellites in space and exploring other worlds would not be possible.

Students have been preparing for the downlink by conducting NASA engineering design challenges and implementing agency robotics resources and activities into K-12 classrooms. A science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, club was organized to increase participation and interest, particularly by female students.

The school’s guidance department also is collaborating with local universities to help students investigate and explore STEM opportunities beyond graduation. During follow up in-district workshops in April and May, a NASA Aerospace Education Services Program specialist will demonstrate how to access and use NASA resources in K-12 curricula.

Eastern Guilford High School employee Michael Woods, a former Aerospace Education Services Project specialist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and the agency’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., is leading the downlink effort. In December 2009, NASA awarded Guilford County Schools a two-year grant of nearly $1 million to help middle and high school teachers develop science lessons using the space agency’s content.

The event is part of a series with educational organizations in the U.S. and abroad to improve teaching and learning in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The in-orbit call is part of Teaching From Space, a NASA project that uses the unique environment of human spaceflight to promote learning opportunities and build partnerships with the kindergarten through 12th grade education community.

NASA Television will air video of the astronauts during the downlink. For NASA TV downlink, schedule and streaming video information, visit:

Even Bob Park will pipe down for a day for this (though he’s right, you know).

STS-129: Shuttle launch ballet

January 3, 2010

From Vimeo, that wonderful Space Shuttle launch video that Phil Plait raved about, just over a month ago. Just for fun.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “STS-129 Ascent Video Highlights on Vimeo“, posted with vodpod

Bob Park is probably right (he usually is). The International Space Station doesn’t have enough science value to justify the expense of it. A lot of the work we do in space exploration could better be done by robots. But you know, I grew up in that era when a manned space launch was a school-stopping experience. I was still in high school when Neil Armstrong set foot on the Moon. So I will be saddened when the shuttle launches come to an end.

Let’s hope the next chapter of space exploration will be at least as cool.

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