Elton John rocked near Earth orbit this morning.
The shuttle crew was awakened by Sir Elton's "Daniel." It was the request of German astronaut Thomas Reiter, who clearly didn't appreciate how triumphant it would have been if the special song had been the Beatles' "Paperback Reiter." Or perhaps it could have been "Born to Be Wild" from the immortal film "Easy Reiter."
We will give him a break though, because today Herr Reiter moved over to the International Space Station, where he will spend the next six months, with just two other guys. It is doubtful that he will be able to engage in one of his favorite hobbies -- fencing. I am not making this up. His NASA biography says he likes fencing and playing the guitar. Swords probably aren't the best toy to have up there, but maybe they can have fake light-saber battles. I am sure the space station crew needs some kind of amusement. They have been up there, alone, since April.
"Everybody is having fun," said station astronaut Jeff Williams today when he greeted his new guests. "I don't see a sad face here."
The shuttle brought up 5,000 pounds of gear and food, which is nice because it is hard for the station to find anyone who will deliver.
Meanwhile, you can monitor just about every second of the shuttle mission if you are lucky enough to get NASA Select on your cable network, which is the space agency's very own cable channel. Seriously, if you want to geek out a little bit, it is the best thing ever. You can learn about nominal trajectories, vernier thrusters, RCCs, MPLMs and JCC (actually, that last one is where my nieces swim).
NASA Select broadcasts much of the conversation between mission control and the astronauts. And you can see the live pictures coming in from space. Today you would have seen the shuttle doing its dramatic back flip and then docking with the space station. You would have also heard mission control mention astronaut Piers Sellers' name about 50 times.
If you are like us in the ABC News trailer (and for your sake, I hope you are not), every time you hear someone say "Piers Sellers," you think they are actually saying "Peter Sellers." So when mission control asks "Piers Sellers, How are you all getting along up there?" I expect him to respond, "Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the war room." Or maybe if they ask, "What does it look like from up there?" He would respond, "I like to watch." Piers Sellers was born in England, much like Peter Sellers. He has a Ph.D. in biometeorology and is an expert in Earth climate systems. He is also not into yoga, and has half a brain. We have never seen Peter Sellers and Piers Sellers in the same room at the same time, but we can only assume they are different people. See for yourself: www.petersellers.com and www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/htmlbios/sellers.html.