How do we say goodbye? As the Space Shuttle program comes to a 2011 close, NASA has announced two shuttle-related music competitions. Also museums are already lining up like Black Friday shoppers to get their hands on one of those soon-to-be retired vehicles. In a contest dubbed the “American Idol for space," NASA invites musicians to create an original song to compliment the STS-134 mission, and asks them to submit their musical stylings online by January 10, 2011. After a NASA panel picks a set of finalists, website visitors can vote for the winner. The top two songs will play during the final shuttle flight in February 2011. Another ongoing competition asks the public to choose from a top 40 list of previous "wake-up songs"--music used to help astronauts rise from their orbiting slumbers. Selections include the theme from Star Trek (old school version), Willie Nelson's "On the Road Again," Tom Petty's "Free Fallin'," and U2's "Beautiful Day." The top two will play during the STS-133 mission scheduled for this November. Museums are also entering into a competition of sorts to snatch up a shuttle. The retired shuttles will be free, as The Wall Street Journal reports, but museums must pay shipping and handling totaling around $28.8 million dollars per vehicle, must have a jumbo jet landing strip nearby for delivery, and should have a clear path to an indoor site for display, since the museums cannot disassemble the vehicles. The Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum already has dibs on the fleet's oldest shuttle, Discovery, but Atlantis and Endeavour are up for grabs. The Smithsonian has also graciously offered to give its current prototype Enterprise to another museum once it gets the real deal. Smithsonian shuttle curator Valerie Neal toldThe Wall Street Journal that the museum has asked NASA to keep Discovery as complete as possible, including space toilets, for posterity's sake:
"Who knows . . . Maybe one day we'll have some extraterrestrials come here to look at our space history."
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