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Astronaut Returns Songs Kids Sent Into Space

With Space Shuttle Endeavour now docked with the International Space Station, an astronaut who returned from a similar mission in December is sharing a special memento with Texas Children’s Hospital. As Houston Public Radio’s Jack Williams reports, it’s a compilation of songs Scott Parazynski took into space, recorded by kids with cancer and blood disorders, kids like 11 year old Alex Harkins.


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“The song that I wrote I thought was really cool because it was the first time and I thought it was all going to be not as big of a deal and then they said it was going to go on a plane and then they said it was going to go up in space and I was going to get interviewed for the New York Times and I was like, whoa. It was really cool.” 

Song: “I Can”

“It’s gotten me out of nervousness I guess you could say. I play the guitar now and I always like to sing and stuff. I play two guitars. I play the electric and the acoustic and I always just like singing and stuff to the guitar. It’s fun.”  

More than 50-songs written and performed by kids at Texas Children’s Hospital made it into space during Discovery’s Mission to the  International Space Station last year. The project was part of a program called Purple Songs Can Fly, started by Anita Kruse.

“Since we started in March of 2006, we’ve had about 90 songs written. My feeling is that when they’re writing and recording, they’re happy and it’s fun. If nothing else, it’s just fun.”

“Hi. My name is Zachary Tavlin and I’m 13-years-old.”

Tavlin is a confident young man and a talented singer. He wrote and performed a song, called “Fly Above the Sky” as a way of saying thank you to Scott Parazynski.

Song: “Fly Above the Sky”

“Everything that he’s done, he’s been in space, he’s dived. I mean, I can’t believe what he’s done. He’s even a doctor. It wasn’t an easy song because every song is personal. There’s so much to write about that it was just amazing. I loved doing it.”

Parazynski says the tribute was the best gift he’s ever received.

“My son spent the first week of his life here at Texas Children’s in intensive care. He’s a strapping young 11-year-old now, but at the time it was pretty scary. My daughter has been here for various things over the years too, so there’s a very strong connection that our family has with the place. So I’ve taken special mementos for the hospital on my earlier flights, but of all of them, this is my fifth flight, this tops it for sure.”

You can hear Alex and Zachary’s songs on our website,

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Jack Williams

Executive Producer for Daily News

Jack is back in Houston after some time away working in public radio and television in Lincoln, Nebraska. Before leaving for the Midwest, he worked in various roles at Houston Public Media from 2000-2016, including reporting, hosting and anchoring. Jack has also worked in commercial news radio in Houston, Austin...

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