To NASA workers and shuttle fans, Coldplay's "Viva La Vida" as Atlantis's Saturday wakeup call was a wistful tribute to a vehicle that has been the leading symbol of America's space program.
When astronauts aboard the space shuttle Atlantis got their musical "wakeup call" from earth on Saturday, the audio blended haunting instrumentals with a not-so-subtle message: An era of American space travel is ending.
The song was Coldplay's "Viva La Vida," which leads off with the line "I used to rule the world."
To NASA workers and to shuttle fans alike, the song served as a wistful tribute to a vehicle that for three decades has been the leading symbol of America's space program. The current mission, by the Atlantis orbiter, is the final one.
Since the first launch in 1981, the orbiters may not have literally ruled the world, but they did soar above it. They helped to maintain US leadership in space exploration, even as they also built bridges beyond US borders by serving the International Space Station.
As the song faded out, Atlantis pilot Doug Hurley responded, "Thanks for that great message and awesome ride to orbit, and the 134 before that with this tremendous space shuttle program."