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"Countdown" is a song by Rush from their 1982 album Signals. Its lyrics are about the first launch of the Space Shuttle Columbia,[1] which the band members watched from a VIP area called "Red Sector A" (the name was later used for a song on the band's next album, Grace Under Pressure). The song incorporates audio from voice communications between astronauts John Young and Robert Crippen and ground control along with commentary from the Kennedy Space Center Public Affairs Officer leading up to the launch.[2]

Rush Countdown Single.jpg
Single by Rush
from the album Signals
B-side"New World Man", "The Spirit of Radio" (live)
ReleasedFebruary 1983 (UK)
Format7", 12"
GenreProgressive rock
Songwriter(s)Alex Lifeson, Geddy Lee, Neil Peart
Producer(s)Rush & Terry Brown
Rush singles chronology
"The Weapon"
"Distant Early Warning"

The song incorporates a driving rhythm and heavy use of synthesizers, with Geddy Lee switching between his synthesizer on the verses and his Rickenbacker 4001 bass on the song's chorus. The lyrics paint a vivid account of the group's experiences witnessing the launch. The song closes the album, with its cautionary tales of man's reliance on technology, on a more positive, celebratory note.[3]

The song was used as a wakeup song for astronauts during STS-109, which was the last successful flight of Space Shuttle Columbia. It was used again for astronaut Mike Fincke during STS-134, flown by Space Shuttle Endeavour on its final mission before retirement. Fincke described how his friends Greg Shurtz and NASA employee Ken Fisher chose the song because the band was inspired to write it after viewing the launch of STS-1. Fincke went on to say the song was played as a tribute to the space shuttle program, which has inspired people around the world.[4]

This song, as printed in the liner notes of the Signals album, is dedicated to "the astronauts Young & Crippen and all the people of NASA for their inspiration and cooperation."

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Price, Carol Selby (1999). Mystic Rhythms: The Philosophical Vision of Rush. Wildside Press LLC. pp. 131–132. ISBN 1-58715-102-2.
  2. ^ Popoff, Martin. Contents Under Pressure: 30 Years of Rush at Home and Away. ECW Press. p. 102. ISBN 978-1-55022-678-2.
  3. ^ Roberto, Leonard (2000). A Simple Kind Mirror: The Lyrical Vision of Rush. iUniverse. ISBN 978-0-595-21362-7.
  4. ^ "STS-109 Wake-up Calls". NASA. Retrieved 8 July 2011.

External linksEdit