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Country singer Slim Dusty, whose recording of the song...

SYDNEY, Australia -- Country singer Slim Dusty, whose recording of the song 'Waltzing Matilda' was broadcast by the space shuttle astronauts to Australia, said today he was 'especially honored' that Australia's national song had been beamed down from space.

Shuttle commander John Young and Robert Crippen played the song Monday night as the shuttle Columbia streaked across Australia.

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Alan Rawson, news director of a Brisbane radio station, told Dusty about the broadcast and the singer said he would like to have a thank you message sent back to the astronauts.

Rawson contacted Bill Woods, NASA liasion officer at the Orroral Creek tracking station near Canberra, who arranged for a recording of Dusty's message to be relayed to mission control in Houston for transmission to the astronauts. Woods said a heavy schedule with pre-landing check lists prevented the message from being sent to Columbia.

Rawson said the mission control flight director had made copies of Dusty's message and would present it to the astronauts when they return to Houston.

'It's fantastic to hear the song,' Dusty said in the message 'and all of Australia has been listening to you as you passed over the country.

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'Waltzing Matilda represents the spirit of our early pioneers and I feel especially honored to know that our national song has been represented to the world from space,' Dusty said. 'It's a very great feeling and we all wish you a safe return ... someday we hope to see you down here in Australia, the land of down under.'

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