Waking up early in the morning is a challenge for most people. To ensure success, many people set their alarm clocks to a certain time. They can sleep easy knowing that a sound will lift them out of their slumber, and allow them to get ready for the day’s activities. This process is no different for an astronaut who is sleeping in a space shuttle 300,000 kilometers away from earth. But what wakes them up? Well, the answer lies in a NASA tradition called “Wake-up Calls.”
Simply put, wake-up calls wake astronauts up. Mission control will play a short recording of a song at a very specific time to wake up the astronauts. The songs are selected by the flight controllers, or by the crewmembers’ family and friends. Usually, the song will have some sort of significant meaning with one of the crew members. The “call” can range from a rock song, to a country song, to a memorable bit of movie dialogue.
This tradition dates back to the Apollo Program, when astronauts were sent to the moon. In fact, the Apollo 15 crew (whose spacecraft was called “America,”) was awakened by a segment of “The City of New Orleans,” beginning with the lyrics “Good morning America, how are you?” In addition to that, on the last day of several missions, the astronauts have been awakened to the song “Going Back to Houston.” Obviously, these songs are not randomly chosen. Mission control takes careful consideration, and chooses the most appropriate song for the occasion.
Now given the fact that there is a space shuttle in space as we speak, you might be wondering what’s getting those astronauts up in the morning. Well, here you go. On the first day in space, they woke up to the Coldplay song “Viva la Vida.” This song was affiliated with Douglas Hurley, who is the pilot of the space shuttle. On day 2, they woke up to “Mr. Blue Sky,” by the Electric Light Orchestra. This song was played for Christopher Ferguson, who is the commander of the mission. On day 3, they woke up to “Tubthumping” by Chumbawamba. This was played for Sandra Magnus, a mission specialist. And on day 4, they woke up to “More” by Matthew West. This was played for Rex Walheim, who is another mission specialist. One can only wonder what they will wake up to in the days to come. This mission was launched on July 8th, 2011, and is scheduled to land on July 21st, 2011.
Well, now you know how astronauts get up. It’s very similar to our method of waking up. There’s only one difference: they dont wake up on the same planet as us!