Start with the moon, then reach for the stars.
NASA’s latest music collaboration to generate excitement about its lunar space probe is "The Moon and More," an original song crafted by producer/keyboardist Matt Cusson, who’s worked with Stevie Wonder and Christina Aguilera, and singer/guitarist Javier Colon, season one winner of NBC’s The Voice.
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center commissioned the project last summer to highlight its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) mission, a robotic spacecraft mapping the moon’s surface and environment. Since launching in 2009, LRO instruments have gathered data on lunar ice, radiation, and topography, with an eye toward better understanding our solar system.
NASA Goddard video producer David Ladd asked the musicians to write a song that captured the inspirational nature of studying the moon and encouraged STEM learning.
"I wanted to create a unique production for the LRO mission that centered around music as a way to engage kids, parents, and educators," says Ladd in a statement. "A major focus was also to convey an important and encouraging message to kids—particularly children of color—that nothing is beyond their reach. You can take yourself to places you never thought possible," just as NASA has journeyed into the farthest reaches of the solar system.
"When I was a kid I wanted to be an astronaut, so to be able to work with NASA and help educate kids is awesome," Cusson tells Co.Create. "The response has been unbelievable. There’s some talk about collaborating on future projects, but for now, they want us to keep promoting it on morning shows and maybe NASA conventions. This song has a lot of life."
The project involved a long-distance collaboration and donated time. Cusson and Colon, longtime friends and songwriting partners living, respectively, in Manhattan and Hartford, Connecticut, wrote portions of the song separately and put them together via two Skype sessions totaling a couple of hours. Cusson brought in another friend, San Francisco bassist Uriah Duffy, who’s worked with Aguilera, CeeLo Green, and Whitesnake. Colon and Duffy uploaded their tracks to Cusson, who produced. Brooklyn-based Jack Deboe mixed and mastered the single.
The video was filmed in August at such locations as the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York; National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.; Hartford’s Connecticut Science Center; the University of Hartford's Hartt School of Music; and the Bronx’s "Living on Mars" mural, a collaboration between NASA and CITYarts nonprofit public art organization.
NASA’s past music partnerships include astronaut Chris Hadfield’s "Space Oddity" video and Curiosity beaming will.i.am’s "Reach for the Stars" from Mars.