How the NASA Wake-Up Call Became a Tradition


In December 1965, crammed inside their Gemini 6 capsule, astronauts Wally Schirra and Tom Stafford listened as crooner Jack Jones serenaded them with a specially written parody of the hit Broadway tune Hello Dolly.

Hello Wally, this is Jack Jones, Wally
It's so nice to know you're up where you belong.
All systems go, Wally, you're 4-0, Wally
Tom, all that's Navy Jazz for razzmatazz
You can't go wrong
While the earth's turning, the midnight oil was burning.
Gets you your requests from way back,
So sit back with the wax, fellows, settle down and relax, fellows.
We'll see you down in Houston town again. 

This was NASA's first astronaut wake-up call. Originally designed to keep astronauts on a rigid schedule (since the lack of sunrises and sunsets can be disorientating), playing music to wake astronauts from their space slumber quickly became tradition. No one really knows why a "Hello Dolly" parody was the first wake-up call, but NASA Chief Historian Bill Barry told PRI that it may have simply been an inside joke. Eventually, Houston expanded its musical tastes, piping in an array of tunes during the Gemini 7 mission for wake-up calls and times of inactivity.