Astronauts Get Baha Men, AC/DC Wake-Up Calls

With no actual morning in outer space, space shuttle crew bringing Destiny research lab to space station relied on Mission Control's musical transmissions.

After a summer and autumn marked by the song's complete cultural penetration, you might think no one on Earth would ever again want to hear the Baha Men's "Who Let the Dogs Out."

But five people orbiting the Earth definitely wanted to hear it February 9 — the song was the wake-up call for the crew of the space shuttle mission STS-98.

During the mission, every day at 4 a.m. CT, the crew would receive wake-up calls: musical transmissions from Mission Control at the Johnson Space Center outside Houston. Tuesday (February 20), some 12 hours before touching down at the space center the four men and one woman crewmembers were roused by the Clash's "Should I Stay or Should I Go."

When one exits the atmosphere of the planet Earth, the notions of "night" and "day" become relative. Since the mission began February 7, the crew orbited the earth every 90 minutes. That's 15 sunrises and sunsets every 24 hours.

But people still need to rest and observe work routines, so NASA marks the passage of time in space with wake-up calls.

STS-98's two-week mission was to deliver and install the Destiny research laboratory to the International Space Station (an orbiting laboratory in space produced jointly by 16 countries, including the United States, Russia, Japan and Canada), according to NASA spokesperson Kelly Humphries. The mission also included three space walks.

The crew included mission commander Ken Cockrel, pilot Mark Polanski and mission specialists Marcia Ivins (who used a robotic arm to install the module onto the station), Tom Jones and Bob Kerbeam, who took the walks in space to make the necessary connections.

The crews orbiting the Earth schedule their night and day periods based on when they need to be awake to do their work, according to Humphries.

"Some missions have two shifts, so there is someone awake 24 hours a day," he said. "On those missions, we don't do wake-up calls. On missions when the crew is on the same shift, we send up one when they're supposed to get out of bed."

The wake-up calls are orchestrated before the mission, Humphries said. "A [crew-member's] family will say, 'I'd like to send this song up to my dad, because he's on orbit and he likes this song.' " Some songs fostered team spirit, Humphries said.

For instance, the crew's training team sent AC/DC's "For Those About to Rock" to the shuttle February 13, the seventh day of the mission. The next day was Valentine's Day, so Jones' wife had mission control play Savage Garden's "To the Moon and Back."