NASA Astronaut Previews New ZZ Top Track on His Way to Space Station

ZZ Top are on top of the world -- or at least one of their new songs is.

NASA Astronaut Michael Fossum, on his way to the International Space Station aboard the Russian Soyuz TMA-02M spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhastan, is treating his fellow astronauts and cosmonauts to an appropriate sneak preview of a track from ZZ Top’s still-untitled upcoming album.

Fossum has maintained friendships with ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard for some time, dating back to even before the missions he flew aboard the US Space Shuttle in 2006 and 2008. He caught wind that one of the tracks on the new album, the band’s first studio recording since 2005, is titled “Flyin’ High.”

A excerpt from the song’s lyrics includes the following couplet:

“Flyin’ high, I’m gonna touch the sky”

The reference obviously resonates with Astronaut Fossum regarding Soyuz trajectory and docking at the International Space Station. At 120 beats-per-minute, the song should keep the crew energized during the flight.

The astronaut, who grew up in McAllen, Texas, and holds a degree in mechanical engineering from Texas A&M University might also find home state resonance in a line that chronicles a comely woman who wears “high heeled cowboy boots.”

The Texas A&M connection is underscored by the fact that Charlene “Chuck” Hill, Dusty’s wife, is also “Texas Aggie.”

During the course of his mission aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery, Fossum played ZZ Top's “Got Me Under Pressure,” a reference to the raising of cabin pressures during the course of that 2008 flight.

Astronaut Fossum is joined on the latest Soyuz-ISS mission by Russian cosmonaut Segei Volkov and Satoshi Furukawa of Japan’s JAXA space agency.

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Damian Fanelli
Editor-in-Chief, Guitar World

Damian is Editor-in-Chief of Guitar World magazine. In past lives, he was GW’s managing editor and online managing editor. He's written liner notes for major-label releases, including Stevie Ray Vaughan's 'The Complete Epic Recordings Collection' (Sony Legacy) and has interviewed everyone from Yngwie Malmsteen to Kevin Bacon (with a few memorable Eric Clapton chats thrown into the mix). Damian, a former member of Brooklyn's The Gas House Gorillas, was the sole guitarist in Mister Neutron, a trio that toured the U.S. and released three albums. He now plays in two NYC-area bands.