“Lalala,” “Bald James Deans,” “Hot Times” and “No Love” — Julien Civange and Louis Haéri
No, we’d never heard of them either, but this duo composed four songs — “Lalala,” “Bald James Deans,” “Hot Times” and “No Love” — that were sent to Saturn’s moon Titan on the European space probe Huygens. There’s more information here — apparently the four songs were written to correspond to stages in the space mission, although what bald James Deans have to do with flying to Titan remains unclear. The tracks don’t seem to be available online, but that’s Civange above.
Mythodea — Vangelis
Honestly, it’d seem kinda wrong if Vangelis’s music hadn’t been sent into space, and sure enough, NASA commissioned the great man to soundtrack their 2001 mission to Mars. The result was Mythodea — Music for the NASA Mission: 2001 Mars Odyssey , a suitably cosmic-sounding symphony that was released on the day NASA’s spacecraft entered Martian orbit.
The European Space Agency’s mission to Mars in 2003 had a distinctly Young British Artist-y flavor — Damien Hirst designed a test card that was supposed to be used to calibrate the cameras of the Beagle 2 explorer after it landed on Mars, while the mission’s call-sign was composed by Damon Albarn et al. Sadly, contact was lost with the lander before it got to Mars, and Blur’s call-sign was lost to eternity.
Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6
The first broadcast to a spacecraft came in December 1965, when a Houston radio station was beamed to the crew of Gemini 7 as they orbited the Earth. The two astronauts chose to listen to classical music, and specifically Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony. (On a less highbrow note, they were also sent “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” apparently at the request of the 12-year-old daughter of astronaut Jim Lovell — she wanted Daddy home for Christmas, the little terror, and the song was a none-too-subtle hint at what might happen if he didn’t show.)
While Hadfield is the first to perform in space, he should have been preceded by some 25 years — astronaut Ron McNair was scheduled to record a saxophone solo by Jean-Michel Jarre on the Challenger in 1986. Sadly, the shuttle exploded on take-off, and Jarre included the piece on his 1986 album, which he named Rendez-Vous in McNair’s honor.
“Up in the Air” — 30 Seconds to Mars
Thankfully, the music of Jared Leto and friends wasn’t beamed into outer space — otherwise we’d probably have been the subject of a vengeful War of the Worlds-style alien invasion already. The band’s song “Up in the Air” was strapped to a Falcon 9 rocket and sent to the International Space Station as part of the promotional efforts for their upcoming album Love, Lust, Faith and Dreams. What the astronauts thought of this particular care package from Earth is unrecorded.
Meanwhile, it’s profoundly depressing that the first song ever broadcast from Mars, courtesy of NASA’s Curiosity Rover, was a specially commissioned track by pop Antichrist will.i.am. The song was called, inevitably, “Reach For the Stars,” and was beamed back from the Red Planet last year. Rumors that NASA meant to send will.i.am himself to Mars instead remain unconfirmed.
“I have only two passions: space exploration and hip hop.” SO. GOOD.