Starting their last full day in space late Tuesday, four Atlantis astronauts were awakened with a song followed by a special message from Kennedy Space Center employees.
"Three...two...one...Good morning, Atlantis, Kennedy salutes you. See you back at wheels stop!"
The group of more than 100 NASA and contractor employees, gathered in the Launch Complex 39 Press Site parking lot outside the Vehicle Assembly Building, then cheered loudly.
"Hey, good morning, Houston," mission commander Chris Ferguson radioed to mission controllers after the message. "And to the great folks at the Kennedy Space Center who have cared for these vehicles for the last 30 years, a special good morning to you."
The wakeup tune for Flight Day 13 was "Fanfare for the Common Man" by Aaron Copland, played for Ferguson. Click here to see a video clip of the KSC message.
Other NASA centers that play an important part in shuttle operations -- Johnson Space Center, Marshall Space Flight Center and Stennis Space Center -- have also recorded messages played for the final shuttle crew.
Kennedy's message would have been played the morning of landing day if NASA had not extended the final shuttle mission a day, to 13 days.
Employees were asked to submit ideas for the message, and the final wording was a blend of some similar suggestions that aimed to highlight KSC's special role in shuttle launches and landings.
The employees held two Atlantis signs and another reading "We have friends in high places."
IMAGE: Employees at Kennedy Space Center gathered in the Press Site parking lot, with the towering Vehicle Assembly Building in the background on June 27, 2011, to record a wake-up call to Atlantis' STS-135 crew members on NASA’s last voyage aboard a space shuttle. Credit: Cory Huston