Friday, April 12, 2013

An Important Space Flight Anniversary

On this day, April 12, in 1961, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to launch into space. Twenty years later on the same date, the first NASA shuttle launch occurred. So this is a pretty important date in the history of space flight. Since it's been raining today and I didn't go out to  take pictures, I thought I'd post a celebration of space flight.

Of course, being me, that means this celebration will consist of music videos, specifically of contemporary music at least nominally referring to space flight. So get ready to blast off into outer space with the likes of David Bowie, Elton John, and Pink Floyd.

When thinking about this anniversary this morning, the first tune to pop into my head was David Bowie's "Space Oddity". Who in my generation can forget that image of Major Tom drifting off into space?


Then there's Elton John's "Rocket Man", based on a Ray Bradbury short story describing a Mars-bound astronaut's thoughts about leaving his family to do his job. Heavy stuff for a pop ballad!


 Then there's Pink Floyd. What can I say? Syd Barrett may have been over-the-top unstable, but man did he have a creative imagination!


Billy Thorpe was an English/Australian musician who with his band The Aztecs practically invented the Aussie pub rock scene. After the Aztecs broke up he came to the US in 1976 and pursued a career as a TV producer and soundtrack composer. One of the first things he released here in the US was his inimitable Children of the Sun space opera. This is the title song of that album.


I love The Police! "Walking On the Moon" is one of the songs only nominally related to space flight. The original video of the song involved The Police walking and playing around Cape Canaveral, as well as incorporating NASA film clips of launching rockets, etc. Unfortunately YouTube doesn't have that video. So you'll just have to make do with the song.


One last entry. In 1994 Thomas Dolby (and I'm a HUGE fan of his music) got involved with the Mind's Eye project, which teamed computer animators and musicians together to create short movies (Jan Hammer was another musician involved in the project). Dolby's movie was called The Gate to the Mind's Eye,  and the tune you're about to hear is called "N.E.O" (Near Earth Object). Featured in this tune is the voice of Dr. Fiorella Terenzi, an Italian astrophysicist who was also trained as an opera singer and who pioneered techniques to convert radio waves from space objects into sound. She made an album of the results, but that wasn't involved in this clip; this is all Mr. Dolby's music!


And that's my space flight celebration. Enjoy!


  1. Rocket that is a song that can get stuck in your head, isn't it? Love Elton John.

    The moon is always such a beautiful sight from earth...but wow..the earth from the moon is breath taking!

  2. You provided a musical soundtrack to my memory-trip Roy. It was a trip that culminated in a memory of a newspaper billboard outside a shop in Halifax, glimpsed as I walked home from school and never forgotten. The headline was simple : "Man in Space"

  3. I was in high school when the first Shuttle Launched and wasn't even alive when Gugarin orbited.

    Weird, somehow, that I'm actually involved with it all now.

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