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One more time: NASA sets contest for final Endeavour wake-up call

From Eric Fiegel, CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Ten original songs are still in the running to be the wake-up music on Endeavour's final mission
  • The songwriters come from across the United States -- and one from Spain
  • NASA says 1,350 songs were submitted from more than 60 countries

(CNN) -- Sinatra has been there. So have Elton John, Madonna and the Beatles. Could Brian Plunkett be next?

Plunkett's song "Dreams You Give" is one of 10 finalists for the wake-up music to be played for the crew of the space shuttle Endeavour on their final day in space on what is scheduled to be Endeavour's final mission.

Although music has been played for astronauts since the Gemini program in the mid-1960s, for the first time NASA has decided to play an original song, voted on by the public, to wake up a crew.

Plunkett, a 40-year-old information technology manager from Missouri, hopes Cmdr. Mark Kelly and his five-member crew will be hearing his song on their final day before returning to Earth.

"We are pretty surprised and excited," Plunkett told CNN during a phone interview.

NASA says that 1,350 songs were submitted from over 60 countries.

Plunkett said he wanted to be a part of the contest because his two sons are so interested in the space program. Both sons, Joseph, 13, and Loren, 10, sing vocals on Dad's contest entry.

The family traveled from Halfway, Missouri, a tiny town just north of Springfield, to see the launch of shuttle Discovery in Florida on its final mission in February, Plunkett said.

"NASA and the shuttle program inspire young people and gives them something to strive for," he said.

Another finalist is Sharon Riddell, a 68-year-old aspiring songwriter/singer from Nashville. She said her "Countdown Blues" was written after she went to Florida to watch a launch and it kept getting delayed.

"My song is dedicated to all the astronauts, their families and friends and all of the support crews who have lived this song," she told CNN.

Riddell says she has been interested in the shuttle program ever since she was a baby sitter for astronaut Tim Kopra in Austin, Texas, who was a flight engineer on an Endeavour mission in 2009.

Music has been used as an alarm clock on all shuttle missions dating back to STS-1, which lifted off in 1981. Traditionally family and friends of the astronauts select the music for the crew, but with the program coming to an end, NASA decided to get the public involved.

The other eight songs that could wake up the astronauts are: "Boogie Woogie Shuttle" by Ryan McCullough of Savannah, Georgia; "Endeavour, It's a Brand New Day" by Susan Rose Simonetti of Cocoa Beach, Florida; "I Need My Space" by Stan Clardy of Statesville, North Carolina; "I Want to Be an Astronaut" by Michael J. Kunes of Phoenix; "Just Another Day in Space," by Kurt Lanham of Jacksonville, Florida; "Rocket Scientist" by Tray Eppes of Cullen, Virginia; "Spacing Out" by Jeremy Parsons of Nashville; and "Sunrise Number 1" by Jorge Otero of Ovideo, Spain.

NASA is hoping this song contest can be as successful as its last, when the public got to choose which Top 40 songs would be the wakeup calls on Discovery's last mission earlier this year. More than 2.5 million people voted in that contest.

Endeavour is scheduled to make its 25th and final mission in mid-April. The 14-day mission will be commanded by Mark Kelly, whose wife, U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, is still recovering from a gunshot wound to the head. Kelly remains hopeful that his wife will be able to attend the launch that will send him, four other Americans and one European Space Agency flier to the international space station.

The song that gets the most votes online will be played on Endeavour's final day in space; the second-place song will be heard the day before. Voting started Tuesday and will continue up to the day of the launch. The songs can be heard at https://songcontest.nasa.gov/home.aspx.

"Any songwriter feels good to hear their song being played, anytime and anywhere," Riddell said.

 
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