NASA launched Apollo 9 in early 1969, to test some of the technical aspects of the equipment that would be so crucial to the lunar landing later that year. Mainly, they tested the in-dash eight-track tape player.
Apollo 8 had tested an onboard reel-to-reel player, with disastrous results: albums by the Doors and Steppenwolf would not play in the zero-gravity environment; in fact, the crew nearly died because they couldn’t crank “Born To Be Wild” and “Touch Me.” Luckily, quick-thinking mission commander Jim Lovell started humming “Magic Carpet Ride” and they made it back to Earth safely.
And so NASA got to work on an exciting new eight-track design, and cartridges of Abbey Road and Led Zeppelin I. Abbey Road turned out to be a mistake: listening to “Octopus’s Garden” in zero-G can be lethal. But Led Zeppelin’s “Dazed and Confused” turned out to be just what NASA wanted: a space anthem you could turn up to 11. Dude.