William Shatner Wakes Up The Space Shuttle and The History of the Star Trek Theme Song

A special pre-recorded greeting by William Shatner was played along with the Star Trek theme song for the “wakeup call” of the crew of the shuttle Discovery on the morning of March 7. It was the morning of their final day on the International Space Station, as the Discovery’s final mission draws near to its end. Looks like folks in Houston are having a ball, huh?

Space, the final frontier. These have been the voyages of the Space Shuttle Discovery. Her 30 year mission: To seek out new science. To build new outposts. To bring nations together on the final frontier. To boldly go, and do, what no spacecraft has done before.

The wakeup call tradition dates back to the Gemini days in the mid-1960s, as Mission Control greets and serenades each crew on every morning they are in space. For this mission the Star Trek theme was chosen runner-up in a special contest where the public voted for the songs the mission team would hear on the final 2 mornings. The top vote-getter, Blue Sky by Big Head Todd and the Monsters, was played early on March 8, just before the shuttle began its return flight.

A recording of Shatner’s greeting is available on The Internet Archive as part of their NASA Audio Collection. And audio from all the wakeup calls on this mission are embedded below (you can click through them in order). The first 7 wakeup songs were picked by crew member’s family and NASA staff.

In fact Archive.org has all the broadcasts from the mission available to stream or download under the Public Domain Mark 1.0 Creative Commons license.

The zip files, under ‘Whole Item’, contain all the raw Air-to-Ground transmissions from each calendar day (in Central Time). Digitized, archived and cataloged by the Houston Audio Control Room.

Meanwhile, back on Earth, there’s an interesting bit of trivia about the Star Trek theme: it has lyrics. Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry wrote the lyrics after the music was already composed, so that he would be credited as co-composer (even though the lyrics were never actually sung on the show) and be paid royalties every time the show aired. That worked well.

There are not too many recordings of the theme with lyrics. Tenacious D did a cool rendition, but the guy below is really worth seeing as he really made a point of taking the silly lyrics seriously.


Actor, nerd, poet, producer, writer mikl-em made his name short so you wouldn't have to. In addition to his blog you can find his writing in "Hi Fructose" magazine and witness him almost life-sized in various plays at The Dark Room Theater in SF's Mission district.

He tends to write about theater, humor, San Francisco culture and history, and stuff that's just plain weird. He thanks Scott for sharing the keys to the Laughing Squid virtual HQ and promises to uphold whatever it is that the mirthful cephalopod would prefer to be uplifted.