Associated Press

On Feb. 5, 1971, Edgar Mitchell became the sixth man to set foot on the moon. On Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016, Mitchell passed away, one day before the 45th anniversary of the moon landing.

One of the challenges that comes with traveling to the moon is distance — the moon sits more than 238,000 miles away from Earth, which makes a voyage there one very long road trip.

As everyone knows, any road trip requires music to help break up the monotony of travel, and it was no different for the 24 NASA astronauts who flew to the moon and back again.

Here's a look at songs played during NASA's Gemini and Apollo flights — music that traveled in space:

Gemini 6

During the Gemini 6 mission, astronauts Wally Schirra and Tom Stafford called down to Earth, reporting something unusual.

"We have an object, looks like a satellite going from north to south, probably in a polar orbit," the astronauts said. "He's in a very low trajectory traveling from north to south and has a very high climbing ratio."

After telling Houston to stand by, the sounds of a smuggled harmonica and bells began as the two astronauts performed "Jingle Bells"

Gemini 7, Gemini 12, Apollo 10, Apollo 17

Dean Martin's "Going Back to Houston" proved to be a popular selection for several crews — mission control played the song for the crews of Gemini 7, Gemini 12 and Apollo 17, and probably more.

Gemini 7, crewed by Frank Borman and Jim Lovell, orbited the earth for nearly 14 days.

Gemini 12, crewed by Buzz Aldrin and Jim Lovell, was the last manned Gemini flight.

Apollo 17, crewed by Gene Cernan, Jack Schmitt and Ron Evans, was the last crew to travel to the moon

Gemini 7

Gemini 7, crewed by Frank Borman and Jim Lovell, orbited the Earth for nearly 14 days. During Gemini 7's trip, Gemini 6 was also launched, and the two performed the first rendezvous of two manned vehicles in space.

During 7's trip, Houston called up, announcing plans to play uninterrupted "mood music," which included excerpts of "La Boheme," by Giacomo Puccini.

However, Houston apologized, there would be no in-flight movies.

Gemini 7

Another piece of Gemini 7's "mood music" was Robert Schumann's Symphony No. 3, aka the "Renish" Symphony

Gemini 7

For a change of pace in its selected "mood music," Houston also piped up the song "Try to Remember," from the 1960s Broadway show The Fantasticks.

Gemini 7

The jaunt to Broadway didn't last long, though — soon Gemini 7 was back to classical music with Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 2.

Gemini 7

Leaving behind both Broadway and classical music for a few moments, next up on the Houston playlist for Gemini 7 was the overture from the 1962 film "Lawrence of Arabia."

Gemini 7

Astronaut Jim Lovell's 12-year-old daughter Barbara called in a request, asking Houston to send a song up to her dad.

Her selection? "I saw Mommie Kissing Santa Claus," in the hopes that "it might stimulate her daddy to have him come home in a hurry."

Transcripts don't say what version crews sent up to space for that December flight, so we went with Jimmy Boyd's 1952 original:

Gemini 7

Last up on Houston's "mood music" list was Water Music, by Handel. Water Music is a suite of short pieces for a small orchestra.

Overall, after hearing Houston list of their playlist, astronaut Jim Lovell declared it "outstanding."

Gemini 9

According to mission transcripts, Houston played up a number of songs from the "gamut of the four B's of music: Bach, Beethoven, Brahms and Brass, Tijuana Brass, that is."

Astronaut Gene Cernan identified the Tijuana Brass selection as the song "The Lonely Bull."

Gemini 12

Astronaut Jim Lovell returned to space for the Gemini 12 mission, and was accompanied by a fellow astronaut who would go on to become famous in his own right — Buzz Aldrin.

During their 1966 flight, the two astronauts were treated to two songs from the new film "The Sound of Music."

Apollo 7

During the Apollo 7 flight, Astronaut Donn Eisele called down to Houston, complimenting their choice of music. Turned out Houston wasn't playing music — it was a local radio station that the astronauts picked up.

Either way, they were listening to the song "Fools Rush in Where Angels Fear to Tread," and Eisele was pleased.

Since transcripts don't identify the recording artist, we went with this version:

Apollo 10

During Apollo 10's mission to the moon (for a dress rehearsal moon landing), Houston played a variety of songs to wake the astronauts up. On May 21, 1969, the choice was Robert Goulet's "On a Clear Day (You Can See Forever)"

Astronaut and Navy man John Young responded to the song with a call to his fellow travelers: "Reveille! Reveille! Up all hands, heave out, trice up, clean sweep down, fore and aft," and then complimented Houston on the choice of music.

Apollo 10

Apollo 10's wakeup call for May 22, as they orbited the moon, was the song "The Best Is Yet to Come," by Tony Bennett

Apollo 10

The Apollo 10 crew was already up and moving the day Houston planned to play Frank Sinatra's "It's So Nice to Go Traveling," but Houston played their "traveling music" anyway, earning compliments from the Apollo crew.

"You people have come up with some (laughter) some real great (laughter) numbers there for us," astronaut Tom Stafford told them. "We sure appreciate it."

The song was played on the day the crew was due to leave Earth and begin their trip home.

Apollo 10

At one point on Apollo 10, the astronauts sent a song down to Houston.

The song was meant, the astronauts said, to make sure that Houston didn't "get too excited about the TV and forget what your job is down there."

Apollo 10

A peppy Apollo 10 crew "woke up" mission control with Frank Sinatra's "Come Fly With Me" on May 25, encouraging them to "Get up lazy bones!"

"It's time you got up!" astronaut Gene Cernan urged. "Big day ahead! And the thought for today is: Remember, National Secretary's Week was last month!"

Apollo 10

Houston responded to the wake-up call with a song of their own, which earned applause from the astronauts in space:

Apollo 10

As the Apollo 10 astronauts returned home, they put on Acker Bilk's recording of "Greensleeves" in the background and radioed down to Houston.

"If you have any request, just give us a call. This is Tom, John and Gene with your morning music," Gene Cernan joked.

"Oh! Roger to Tom, John and Gene show," Houston replied. "I don't know where you guys get this morning music bit though."

"Isn't it 6 o'clock in the morning? I have 10 after 6. Is that a.m. or p.m.?" Cernan asked.

"Would you believe it's p.m. down here?" Houston asked.

Okay," Cernan replied. "This is the Tom, John and Gene evening show."


Apollo 11

The world may have been impressed when Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon, but Houston was not impressed with his choice of music on the way there.

Armstrong took along an album titled "Music Out of the Moon," which he said was an old favorite of his.

Houston heard it being played, and thanked him for turning it off.

Apollo 11

According to astronaut Michael Collins of Apollo 11, he, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin listened to the song "Everyone's Gone to the Moon" on portable tape recorders while on their way to the first moon landing.

Collins and the mission transcripts don't specify which version of "Everyone's Gone to the Moon" they listened to, so we went with the original, released in 1965:

Apollo 12

The Apollo 12 astronauts — Pete Conrad, Dick Gordon and Al Bean — may have gotten off to a rocky start when their rocket was struck by lightning (twice!) during liftoff, but once in space, they relaxed to the sounds of their expansive playlist.

The transcripts list the song "San Antonio Rose" as one of their selections, specially chosen (according to Conrad) to keep Bean from getting too homesick.

Apollo 12

After Houston made fun of Conrad's "San Antonio Rose" ("Pete, I asked for a little of the good music"), Conrad pulled out the song "Louisiana Man," by Rusty and Doug.

Houston's response?

"Pete, all the folks down here feel that isn't half bad... all bad."

Conrad then sent his fellow astronauts "scurrying all over the spacecraft" searching for the rest of their tapes.

Apollo 12

Command Module Pilot Dick Gordon offered up Vikki Carr's "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You" in an attempt to please Houston, asking, "Is that any better?"

Houston responded with a suggestion "that maybe you continue scurrying around."

Apollo 12

Houston was too distracted by actual work to criticize Gordon's next choice of song: "Wichita Lineman," by Glen Campbell

Apollo 12

The Apollo 12 transcripts don't specify which recording of "Chattanooga Choo-Choo" the astronauts preferred — just that they listened to that song on their way to the moon. This is what we went with:

Apollo 12

According to mission transcripts, the astronauts "settled down to a normal routine during the day" as they flew toward the moon, and they did it to the sounds of Elvis Presley's "Suspicious Minds"

Apollo 12

It was only fitting that Apollo 12's all-Navy crew was treated to the Navy's First Call during their voyage to the moon.

It worked — Conrad responded back, "Everybody's at attention in here."

Apollo 12

The crew of Apollo 12 tried to be fair with its musical selections, sort of.

According to Conrad, they played "a little bit of Al's (music), and a little bit of Dick's, and a little bit of mine... generally not in that order."

Dusty Springfield's "Son of a Preacher Man" was apparently one of Dick's choices, and — like most of 12's music — Houston was not thrilled.

"Can we put our headsets back on now?" the Houston transcript reads.

Apollo 12

The Apollo 12 crew listened to the song "Those Were the Days" while circling the moon, and as this was one of the more popular versions of the song at the time, it's our best guess for the one the astronauts chose:

Apollo 12

While the Apollo 12 crew circled the moon and listened to music, commander Pete Conrad observed: "If they put this in - if they made up a Hollywood movie, just like this, you wouldn't believe..."

"What do you mean?" lunar module pilot Alan Bean asked. "Listening to this music on the back side of the moon?"

"That's right," Conrad confirmed.

When command module pilot Dick Gordon protested, Bean responded that "nobody would buy it."

"This is corny, cornball," he teased.

The song that caused this conversation?

According to the book "A Man On the Moon," by Andrew Chaikin, it was this:

Apollo 12

While Conrad wrestled with his dinner on the fourth day in space (it was a "colorful" fight, according to the transcripts), the crew listened to "Wedding Bell Blues," by The 5th Dimension

Apollo 12

One of the dangers of listening to music on the way to and from the moon is battery drainage — Conrad informed Houston along the way that they were trying to squeeze every last drop out of them.

Conrad played the song "Freight Train," by Peter, Paul and Mary, for Houston at one point, and they said it sounded like someone was winding a victrola.

Apollo 12

Apollo 12's music included numerous playings of the song "Sugar, Sugar," by the Archies, according to mission transcripts

Apollo 12

The Apollo 12 playlist also included the song "Little Woman," but doesn't specify the artist. Here's our best guess:

Apollo 12

According to the transcripts, after Pete Conrad and Al BEan returned to their ship after becoming the third and fourth men (respectively) to walk on the moon, they and Dick Gordon listened to the song "Oh, Lonesome Me."

The transcripts don't specify the artist, so this is the version we chose:

Apollo 13

Just prior to Apollo 13's infamous "Houston, we've had a problem" moment, the three astronauts on board gave a TV broadcast where they showed a floating tape recorder playing the song "Willow Weep for Me"

The version of the song isn't listed in the mission transcript, so we went with the "definitive" jazz piano version, which is by Art Tatum:

Apollo 13

During that same TV broadcast, astronaut Jim Lovell said their trip wouldn't be complete without the song "Age of Aquarius," which is a nod to their soon-to-be life-saving lunar module Aquarius.

Apollo 13

During the flight of Apollo 10, astronaut Tom Stafford requested Houston play the Marine Corps Hymn, but Houston said they couldn't because "you'd have to stand up, and you guys have said you don't know which way is up."

They must've worked out the problem, though, because the song was played during the flight of Apollo 13.

Apollo 13, 15

The Apollo 13 Command Module was named Odyssey, so the astronauts naturally brought along a tape to play the theme from the movie that was its namesake.

Astronaut Jim Lovell said it was "rather odd" to see the tape recorder floating around and playing music.

On Apollo 15, the song was played as the crew's wake-up music.

Apollo 15

On their sixth day of space flight, Houston called up to the crew of Apollo 15, saying, "Endeavor, this is the planet Earth calling this morning. We'll start off with a little bit of wake-up music."

The music they chose was "Tijuana Taxi," by Tijuana Brass.

Apollo 15

In honor of Apollo 15's James Irwin (an East High School graduate, btw), who graduated from the Naval Academy in 1951, Houston played the song "Anchors Aweigh" as one of the crew's wakeup calls on their voyage to the moon.

"Oh man," replied crew commander Dave Scott, "he's standing at attention right now."

Apollo 15

As they blasted off from the moon, astronauts and Air Force Experimental Test Pilot School graduates Dave Scott and James Irwin played a song that they had chosen special for the occasion:

Apollo 16

Apollo 16 astronaut Ken Mattingly orbited the moon alone while his crewmates John Young and Charlie Duke worked on its surface. A classical music fan, Mattingly said he chose to bring along Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique because it seemed like an "appropriate" thing to take to the moon

Apollo 16

Even though it's not quite as classical as Berlioz, Mattingly enjoyed listening to the "Pink Panther Theme" while circling the moon above his two crewmates, judging by the mission transcripts:

Mattingly: (Humming)
Mattingly: (Humming; snapping fingers)
Mattingly: (Humming)

But then eventually he declared, "Okay, Pink Panther, you'll have to wait," and got back to work.

Apollo 17

While Apollo 17 astronauts Jack Schmitt and Gene Cernan were on the moon, they decided to turn the tables and give Houston a wake-up call, singing down (up?) the song "Good Morning."

Houston answered with Strauss' "Thus Spake Zarathustra," saying they had been beaten to the punch but wanted to play the piece anyway because it was so pretty.

And "very apropo at the moment," Cernan agreed.

Apollo 17

While on the moon, Schmitt and Cernan were awakened for their second trip out to the lunar surface with Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries."

Schmitt — who would've had a dubious affection for the pick, since that was the song Caltech, his undergraduate school played during finals exams — still dubbed the choice "both monumental and epic."

Apollo 17

Not every university can say that its fight song has been played on the moon, but Texas A&M can.

Flight Director Gerry Griffin is to blame for the Aggie fight song wake-up call — it was his alma mater.

Apollo 17

When Houston played "Going Back to Houston" to celebrate Apollo 17's successful moon mission and the crew's trip home, the crew played a song of their own in return — Tennessee Ernie Ford's "God Bless America."

Houston called the choice "very enjoyable and very appropriate."

Apollo 17

At one point on the Apollo 17 mission, the crew was awakened with the Kansas University Jayhawk Fight Song (in honor of astronaut Ron Evans' alma mater), but it's probably more accurate to say that Houston ATTEMPTED to wake the crew up using the song.

From the transcripts:

(Jayhawk Fight Song)
Good morning, Apollo 17. It's Houston. Over.
Apollo 17, Houston. Good morning.
Apollo 17, Houston. Good morning.
(Jayhawk Fight Song)
Apollo 17, Houston. Good morning. Are you with us this morning?
Good morning, Apollo 17. It's time to rise and shine. Over.
Apollo 17; oh, Apollo 17; it's morning. Time to get up. Over
Hello, Apollo 17; do you read? Over.
(Jayhawk Fight Song)
Hello, 17. Hello, 17. How do you read us this morning.

Astronaut Jack Schmitt: We're asleep.

Houston: That's the understatement of the year.

Apollo 17

On the day the Apollo 17 crew was due to leave lunar orbit and begin their trip home, mission control woke them up with the song "Light My Fire."

"We're going to light your fire today, babe," Houston told the crew.

Apollo 17

Apollo 17 was a December flight, which meant the wake-up song "Home For the Holidays" (by Jerry Vale) was an appropriate choice

Apollo 17

Houston earned praise for their choice of wake-up music when they played Roberta Flack's "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face," with Jack Schmitt saying they had "finally learned how to wake somebody up."

Apollo 17

The choice of John Denver's "The City of New Orleans" as a wake-up song was probably due to its chorus, which says, "Good morning, America. How are you?"

"America" was the name of the Apollo 17 command module.

Astronaut Jack Schmitt didn't get his headset on in time to hear the song, and made Houston play it again.

Apollo 17

Apollo 17 was — and is still — the last manned space flight to land on the moon, and perhaps in a nod to that, Houston awakened the crew with "We've Only Just Begun," by The Carpenters, as their journey neared its end.


After a long trip to the moon, it's probably hard to keep from singing.

As the Apollo 17 astronauts show us, that's OK. It does help if you know the lyrics, though.