TIL that Kalpana Chawla, one of the astronauts killed in the Columbia tragedy, knew Steve Morse of Deep Purple and had even taken the band’s “Machine Head” album to space with her on the mission. Morse wrote a song called “Contact Lost” as a tribute to her.


TIL that Kalpana Chawla, one of the astronauts killed in the Columbia tragedy, knew Steve Morse of Deep Purple and had even taken the band’s “Machine Head” album to space with her on the mission. Morse wrote a song called “Contact Lost” as a tribute to her.

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  1. ScottishSeahawk says

    Her fellow Astronaut Laurel Clark was a big fan of Scottish Band, Runrig. She was given a morning wake up call to their song in space and took their album “The Stamping Ground” to space with her. The album was discovered in a field in Texas and was presented to the band by her family. It was on display in the National Museum of Scotland a couple of years ago. They left a tribute to her at the end of their final song, “Somewhere”, using a recording of her voice.

  2. SmallsTheHappy says

    When Chris Hadfield was asked by his son if they could record a cover “Space Oddity” he was initially hesitant because to his knowledge, the astronaut died that the end. They agreed to change the end to have him survive and that’s why the music video ends with a capsule successfully touching down.

  3. Loud_Cloud89 says

    I attended The University of Texas at Arlington where she received her degree from. There is an entire residence hall named after her with a memorial inside the entry. Kalpana Chawla, a truly incredible woman.

  4. Nuofnowhere says

    I was a schoolkid in India in the 00s and Kalpana Chawla was somehow on display in every grade that year, as a role model for women in particular and Indians in general, sort of a ‘look what we can achieve’. I was just old enough to understand ‘space’ and just young enough to not know many details about Columbia and its tragic end. Rest in peace, you inspired a generation of schoolchildren to reach for the stars.

  5. simenfiber says

    Another Astronaut/Musician who died in a shuttle accident, Ronald McNair.

    Before his last fateful space mission, he had worked with the composer Jean-Michel Jarre on a piece of music for Jarre’s then-upcoming album Rendez-Vous. It was intended that he would record his saxophone solo onboard the Challenger, which would have made McNair’s solo the first original piece of music to have been recorded in space… However, the recording was never made, as the flight ended in the disaster and the deaths of its entire crew. The final track on Rendez-Vous,

    “Last Rendez-Vous,” has the subtitle “Ron’s Piece,” and the liner notes
    include a dedication from Jarre: “Ron was so excited about the piece
    that he rehearsed it continuously until the last moment. May the memory
    of my friend the astronaut and the artist Ron McNair live on through
    this piece.” Ron McNair was supposed to have taken part in Jarre’s Rendez-vous Houston concert through a live feed from the orbiting Shuttlecraft.


  6. CohibaVancouver says

    For most people the Challenger disaster is certainly the more significant of the two tragedies. I remember watching it live.

    But for me, Columbia burning up hit me harder.

    I remember watching Columbia’s first launch and return in 1981. I remember being happy that America had returned to space in a ship that was just so goddamn MFing cool-looking. I remember following Columbia’s subsequent launches. As a teenager I built the Columbia model kit.

    So when that spaceship that meant so much to me burned up, it hit me hard. I just couldn’t believe it.

  7. SuicidalGuidedog says

    Pretty interesting TIL. The Wiki entry uses the same terms as OP (Chawla “knew Steve Morse”) but the linked source and subsequent sites all say that she was a fan who exchanged emails with the band while in space. [Here’s](http://www.guitarsite.com/newsletters/031110/7.shtml) an example. That’s a loose definition of ‘knew’ but it’s still an interesting TIL nonetheless.

  8. jrdncdrdhl says

    Space Truckin

  9. MisterGoo says

    “Steve Morse of Deep Purple”.

    Now I feel old.

  10. himmmmmmmmmmmmmm says

    She spoke the following words while traveling in the weightlessness of space, “You are just your intelligence.”

  11. NancyPelosibasedgod says

    TIL Columbia happened in 2003, for some reason I thought it was earlier than that

  12. SunsetPathfinder says

    I knew Laurel Clark’s son (we were in the same elementary school together) and it will always strike me because the Columbia disaster was the first major event of that nature that was personal. Huge personal moment of development, and it’s always sad to hear more about the STS-107 crew.

  13. The_Iceman2288 says

    You know who else was meant to be on board the Challenger? Big Bird.

    No seriously, they wanted someone on board to get kids interested in science so they made a deal with the Jim Henson Company to train Carol Spinney and fly him into space in the Challenger AS Big Bird. Eventually the idea fell through and they replaced him with a math teacher who had some prior astronaut training.

    But can you imagine the emotional scarring if kids were sitting in their classroom watching Big Bird die in an explosion?


  14. bdizzzzzle says

    Just tried to look up the lyrics. There aren’t any, it’s instrumental.

  15. MJZMan says

    Solid choice.

    Space Truckin’ is one of the best songs ever.

  16. AnthonyGonsalvez says

    I graduated from the same college, although many years later after the incident. What’s creepy is two of the most prominent alumni of our college had a horrific accident. One of them is kalpana chawla.

  17. rikki-tikki-deadly says

    The saddest song about astronauts not making it home is “The Commander Thinks Aloud” by The Long Winters.

  18. hemantsaiiiniii says

    In India whenever a girl want to be a space astronaut instead of saying she want to be an astronaut 🚀

    she says “I want to be like Kalpana Chawla”. 👩‍🚀

    This is how well respected and loved Kalpana Chawla in India.🇮🇳

    RIP Kalpana Chawla 🙏

  19. BobDylanBlues says

    Space Truckin’ is a sick song even if you’re not going into space.

  20. Alieneater says

    We, speaking as Americans, have been the beneficiaries of immigration from India in such a lop-sided manner. We get the smartest, hardest-working, bravest people who are able to solve all of the ridiculous problems required to come here.

    Women like Kalpana Chawla are an incredible gift to the US.

  21. manofmanylores says

    Reading the wiki it talked about nasa “limiting the investigation on the damage of the foam” I wonder if they had looked more into it if they would still be around

  22. Tesseraktion says

    Steve Morse is a class act and a monster guitarist. Pick every note is such a hard style to earn yet he’s made it work with Dixie Dregs, Kansas, Deep Purple, and as a solo artist.

  23. jaketheriffer says

    Interesting. Morse is an amazing player. But he didn’t play on machine head. He joined deep purple later on.

  24. jrstok says

    Steve Morse is the man. If all you know of his work from Deep Purple, you need to look up The Dixie Dregs and the Steve Morse Band.

  25. Revan_2504 says

    “Machine Head” is the best hard-rock album in history.

  26. huxley00 says

    How can a NASA Astronaut bring a deep purple album on a rocket and try to tell people she ain’t smokin weed.

  27. Skanky says

    Paging /u/Steve_Morse

    Would love to hear your insight about this. Hope all is well!

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