Hello Earth, Space Shuttles and Kate Bush

Prompted by the news of a new album release from Kate Bush, I’ve been revisiting her earlier work.  Specifically my two favourite albums, The Dreaming and Hounds of Love, the later arguably being one of the greatest albums ever released, certainly by a British Artist.

Its release in 1985 coincided perfectly with my ‘teenage angst’ years and it resided almost permanently in my Aiwa auto-reverse personal stereo for three or four years, thus I became intimately acquainted with it.

Many of the tracks contain audio samples of things such as clips from films and various sound effects.  Hello Earth is the penultimate track on The Ninth Wave which is the name given to side 2 (remember when albums had sides.)

The track begins with voice samples which I believed were taken from television coverage of the early Columbia Space Shuttle Missions.  The samples are quiet and overlap each other and it is therefore difficult to be sure exactly was is said, so far I’ve come up with this:-

Voice 1. “Columbia now at nine times the speed of sound”
Voice 2. “Roger that, Dan, I’ve got a solid TACAN locked on, er, TACAN (delivery?)”
Voice 3. “The (tracking/backing data?), map data and pre-planned trajectory are all one line on the block”
Voice 4. “Show your block decode”

The first Columbia mission (STS-1) was launched in 1981, I remember watching the launch with great excitement in our school library on one of those TV’s on wheels. Between this first launch and the release of Hounds of Love Columbia flew five more missions, STS-2, 3, 4, 5 and 9 with Challenger taking over duties for STS-6, 7 and 8.  TACAN incidently is the acronym for Tactical Air Navigation System.

With the power of the Internet now at my disposal I thought it might be interesting to try and track down the sources of the samples.  So I headed over to Youtube and began watching old coverage of the missions.

I was initially looking for ‘Columbia now at nine times the speed of sound’ but the first sample I came across was ‘The (tracking/backing data?), map data and pre-planned trajectory are all one line on the block’ which can be heard at 37 seconds on the following video:-

Hearing those words was a seriously weird experience.  It’s no exaggeration to suggest that I’ve listened to The Hounds of Love several hundred times and to hear the words outside the context of the track was bizarre.

Thusfar I’ve had no luck finding the other samples, I would particularly like to track down ‘Columbia now at nine times the speed of sound’ so any help would be appreciated.

I also noticed that Kate now has Youtube channel, so go on over and watch some of those classic videos:-

Kate Bush Channel

15 thoughts on “Hello Earth, Space Shuttles and Kate Bush

  1. Hi I found some missing part in this video STS-1 Landing – 2 (BBC)

    4m 30 Voice 1. “Columbia now at nine times the speed of sound”
    5m 10 Voice 2. “Roger that, Dan, I’ve got a solid TACAN locked on, er, TACAN (delivery?)”


  2. That’s fantastic Jason, well done on finding that and thanks for letting me know. I’ve watched a lot of footage and never thought I’d find it, I’m really pleased we’ve almost got the complete set, I think it’s just ‘show your block, decode’ we’re missing.


  3. I first heard it on an Amiga game ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1Ki_ScJJS0 – Way of the Little Dragon). I always wondered what it was off, then I heard it on Kate’s song and really wanted to know more about it. Yesterday I managed to find that game clip, as I’d forgot which game it was from, then I found this page with the clips! 🙂


  4. 000:02:17 Armstrong: Inboard cut-off. BTD version starts here. So apparently KB decided to add the Apollo-11 mission later and continued with STS-1 before the “Hello Earth” entrance in the music on BTD. It makes sense starting the journey with sound clips from the take off of Apollo-11 and ending it with the STS-1 landing, both of which are the firsts of manned spaceflights in history, well, the successful ones after all.


  5. What about the eerie sounds near the end ? They sound like the “sound” the planets make from some of their emissions, and very similar to those used in the “OA.”

    Liked by 1 person

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