Space Music: Shuttle Tracks to Blast Off With

NASA's final space shuttle launch this Friday brings about the end of an era. If you're like me, you grew up watching the awesome triumphs and stunning tragedies associated with the space shuttle program. Friday's Atlantis launch brings all this to a close and, amid all the emotion, you'll probably want to crank some appropriate space music. Here are some recommendations: "Space Shuttle" by Gil Scott-Heron Gil Scott-Heron's 1990 track "Space Shuttle" is about much more than the shuttle program. The song takes a critical stance on the space program itself as a pointless waste of funding for the world's impoverished and starving, as well as an inevitable part of humanity's unending war schemes.

Scott-Heron sadly died earlier this year, but the man was a true American poet. Just consider the lyrics, "Space was the place where at least we thought our dreams were safe, ideas of innocence and grace,floating above the planet's face. Ah, but the distance has been erased 'cause Uncle Sam is on the case. ET has joined the Arms Race! Helping with a military base."

If you're unfamiliar with Gill Scott-Heron's work, I highly recommend giving the Paris DJs mix "For Ever Gil Scott-Heron!" a listen.

Of course, these are just a few of the songs to reference NASA's space shuttle program over the week. "Blue Sky" by Big Head Todd and the Monsters is another famous track, written for the Space Shuttle Discovery's 2005 return to flight (covered in this post). And if you'd like to experience the sounds of Friday's launch mixed in with some ambient space music, be sure to tune into SomaFM's excellent "Mission Control" internet radio channel.

So there you have it! As always, you can find the Stuff to Blow Your Mind podcast on iTunes, Zune and the RSS feed. And don't forget the free HowStuffWorks iPhone App.

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About the Author: Robert Lamb spent his childhood reading books and staring into the woods — first in Newfoundland, Canada and then in rural Tennessee. There was also a long stretch in which he was terrified of alien abduction. He earned a degree in creative writing. He taught high school and then attended journalism school. He wrote for the smallest of small-town newspapers before finally becoming a full-time science writer and podcaster. He’s currently a senior writer at HowStuffWorks and has co-hosted the science podcast Stuff to Blow Your Mind since its inception in 2010. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his wife Bonnie, discussing dinosaurs with his son Bastian and crafting the occasional work of fiction.