NEW YORK, Nov. 7 (UPI) -- "Contact Lost," the moving final song on Deep Purple's new album "Bananas," was inspired by the tragic loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia.
Mission specialist Kalpana Chawla, one of the seven crewmembers killed in the Feb. 1 disaster, was a fan of the band and traded e-mails with several group members while in space.
Guitarist Steve Morse, vocalist Ian Gillan, bass guitarist Roger Glover, drummer Ian Paice and keyboardist Don Airey were in the midst of recording "Bananas" when the disaster occurred.
Chawla took three CDs on board Columbia: Deep Purple's landmark 1972 album "Machine Head," 1996's "Purpendicular" and Rainbow's 1978 album "Down to Earth" (Glover and Airey were both members of Rainbow at the time).
While in space, Chawla liked to wake up to Deep Purple's "Space Truckin'" from "Machine Head."
The band members were horrified and deeply saddened by Columbia's fate, and Morse immediately channeled his emotions into composing "Contact Lost" within one hour of the accident. Morse is donating his "Contact Lost" songwriting royalties to the families of the astronauts.