Will.I.Am at Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Tuesday Aug. 28, 2012, in Pasadena, Calif.

*Will.i.am on Tuesday went from an international sensation to interplanetary superstar.


A new orchestral tune written and performed by the Black-Eyed Peas front man was beamed back to Earth Tuesday by NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover, reports USA Today.  Titled “Reach For The Stars,” it’s the first musical composition to be transmitted to Earth from another planet. The tune launched with Curiosity aboard an Atlas V rocket at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station last November.

The whole thing started when NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden called the singer and asked if he wanted to join the agency’s effort to attract young students to science, technology, engineering and mathematics classes.

“So I asked the question: ‘Hey, what do you guys got coming up?’ He said, ‘We’ve got a rocket going to Mars,'” will.i.am told students from the East Los Angeles neighborhood of Boyle Heights, where he was raised in the Estrada Courts housing projects. The students had gathered at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., for the big event.

“I said, ‘Hey, did you ever think about putting a song on the rocket, so when the rocket lands (the song) comes back to Earth?'” the entertainer recalled.

”And so, he said, ‘Who’s going to do the song?’ And I said, ‘Are you serious?'”

That was February 2011, and even after all those months, will.i.am said it was “surreal’ to actually hear the transmission come back from the red planet. The first verse:

Why they say the sky is the limit
When I’ve seen the footprints on the moon
Why do they say the sky is the limit
When I’ve seen the footprints on the moon
And I know the sky might be high
But baby it ain’t really that high
And I know that Mars might be far
But baby it ain’t really that far
Let’s reach for the stars

[Scroll down for audio of the entire song.]

Curiosity lands on Mars

A fan of classical music, will.i.am did not want to send a computer-generated beat to Mars. Instead, he put a 40-piece orchestra together to show musicians practicing their craft. He wanted to send a work of art to the red planet.

“I didn’t want to do a song that was done on computer. I wanted to show human cooperation and have an orchestra there, and (create) something that would be timeless, and translate to different cultures,” the entertainer said.

Aiming to inspire young students, he also enlisted a children’s choir to sing parts of the song.

The effort was not the first time will.i.am has teamed up with NASA. He was featured in a 2011 NASA promotional video that highlights the importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics for young students.

That, too, is the aim of the song.

“It’s a reminder that anything is possible if you discipline yourself, and dedicate yourself and stand for something,” he said. “We don’t have to end up in the ‘hood.”

Listen to “Reach for the Stars” below.