Astronauts saluted by Elton 'Rocket Man' John

July 13, 2011 - 12:14 PM
Space Shuttle

In an image made from video, astronauts Ronald Garan Jr., top, and Michael Fossum work outside the International Space Station during the last spacewalk of NASA's space shuttle era,Tuesday, July 12, 2011. They will retrieve a broken ammonia pump outside the International Space Station and pack it aboard the docked shuttle Atlantis. The two will also set up a robotic refueling experiment. (AP Photo/NASA TV)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — The astronauts making NASA's last space shuttle flight received best wishes Wednesday from the original "Rocket Man," Elton John.

NASA beamed up a prerecorded message by the British superstar, as well as a half-minute of his Apollo-era 1972 song, which was inspired by space exploration.

All four shuttle astronauts gathered for the wake-up song, joined by the six residents of the International Space Station.

"Good morning, Atlantis, this is Elton John. We wish you much success on your mission and a huge thank you to all the men and women at NASA who worked on the shuttle for the last three decades."

"Elton John. Music legend. Wow. That is absolutely fantastic," replied Atlantis' commander, Christopher Ferguson.

"I think it just illustrates ... the amount of people globally who have been affected by the shuttle program itself," Ferguson added.

"Rocket Man" has awakened previous shuttle crews and was on NASA's Top 40 list of wake-up music for public voting earlier this year. It garnered more than 4,300 votes for 17th place.

The 10 orbiting astronauts quickly turned their attention to more mundane matters, hauling things back and forth a day after their single spacewalk on Tuesday — the last of NASA's 30-year shuttle era. They also contended with a smelly toilet.

Atlantis delivered a year's worth of food, clothes and other supplies to the space station. Both crews spent Wednesday unloading the cargo carrier that flew up on the shuttle. They will fill it back up with station trash and discarded equipment for return to Earth next week.

Space station astronaut Ronald Garan Jr. got stuck working on the stinky toilet.

The stench from the American-made station toilet was so bad Monday that the astronauts had to shut it down as spacewalk preparations were under way; that work was taking place close to the bathroom.

While the smell eased, the toilet had a loud motor noise and poor suction.

Mission Control directed the astronauts to replace an air hose and other equipment, and then flush everything. Flight controllers believe the odor problem is associated with the urine-processing system; urine is recycled aboard the space station into water for cooking and drinking.

The Russian space station toilet was working fine; so was the one on Atlantis.

Atlantis' 13-day mission is the last ever for a space shuttle. After that, the three surviving shuttles will become museum displays.

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Online:

NASA: http://www.nasa.gov/shuttle