Hear the Declassified, Eerie “Space Music” Heard During the Apollo 10 Mission (1969)
By Ted Mills – The video below is a breathless example of American cable television, and how we love a good story and seriously want something to be more fantastic than boring ol’ scientific fact. It also ties into our culture’s perpetual love and nostalgia for the space program of the 1960s.
The anecdote takes place in 1969 during the Apollo 10 mission, when the astronauts on board were in lunar orbit and flying around the dark side of the moon. Having temporarily lost radio contact with earth, they begin to hear “weird music.” Eugene Cernan and John Young can be heard on the recordings asking “You hear that? That whistling sound?” Another astronaut agrees: “That sure is weird music.” The sound lasted for about 60 minutes.
These recordings were only declassified in 2008 by NASA, which only adds to their mystery, along with the fact that the astronauts never spoke on the matter afterwards because they thought nobody would believe them, according to this BBC article.
So what could it have been? A Star Wars cantina on the moon? Martian ham radio operators? The monolith from 2001?
Well, cut through the internet interference and it seems to be radio interference. This thread on Metafilter has some great non-clickbait-y discussion, including this:
The other likely explanation is that radio noise from the universe resonated with various components in Apollo, and ultimately induced enough current on the radio antenna to generate a signal. On the dark side of the moon, earth-based signals fine tuned for human listeners are absent. Background noise and its impact on Apollo’s communication systems would be prominent on the audio signal.
But maybe this comment offers a better explanation:
Meanwhile, you can cut through all that by listening to the full archive of Apollo 10 recordings that NASA posted on archive.org on 2012. You can find the “music” on track 7, 10-030702_5-OF-6, starting at 44 minutes in, in all its static-y glory.
And for those who dig the music of sine waves, you could just listen to this:
Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the FunkZone Podcast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, read his other arts writing at tedmills.com and/or watch his films here.