Former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney became the first musician to perform a live concert for astronauts in orbit last night.
He woke up two crew members of the International Space Station (ISS) by singing the Beatles songs Good Day Sunshine and English Tea. His performance was broadcast all the way from California to the outpost 219 statute miles above Earth, travelling at 17,500 mph.
McCartney performed the two songs live from Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, California, just before 1am local time (5:55am ISS time) for Expedition 12 commander Bill McArthur and flight engineer Valery Tokarev.
‘We want to say hi to you, we want to say good morning,’ McCartney said to the crew. ‘I can’t believe we’re actually transmitting to space, this is sensational.’
McCartney decided to make history with the concert after hearing the crew of Shuttle Discovery were played Good Day Sunshine as their wake up call on the final day of their mission on STS-114.
‘We’re very proud to say that on the morning that NASA told them they were clear to come home to the Earth, they played that song,’ McCartney added. ‘We send our love from Earth.’
The Englishman also had time to joke with the ISS crew, asking: ‘What’s that you got there in your tea Valery, a little vodka?’ – when Tokarev was seen sipping from his breakfast drinking bag. ‘It’s a little early today,’ replied a smiling Tokarev.
‘It’s such an honor for you to join us,’ added McArthur after performing a pair of weightless somersaults. ‘We’re so thrilled that you can participate in our flight.’
The crew are into their first month of a six month mission on board the ISS, preparing the station for the May, 2006 arrival of Shuttle Discovery on STS-121.
‘I think this audience just wants to give you thanks for everything your doing and for joining us,’ said McCartney. ‘We wish you all the best for the rest of your mission. We can’t wait to meet you when you get back down to Earth.’