This is totally out of the blue, but interesting for those into 80′s music (did Dr. Cara just perk up and turn her attention this way?).  But it starts way earlier — 1969, I believe.
Wednesday, we were driving along listening to the radio when "Space Oddity" by David Bowie came on.  This is one of my favorite songs of the late 60′s, and the boys have latched on to it, too.  They like it because it has a guy named "Tom" who’s an astronaut.  What I like about it is that it’s plausible.  It’s an astronaut off in space when something goes wrong.  He ends up sounding somewhat euphoric and senseless (symptoms of CO2 inhalation?) until ground control loses contact with him, and he drifts off into space.  It’s unlike "Rocket Man" by Elton John (which I enjoy as well, btw), in which "it’s just my job, five days a week".  When you break down the lyrics to RM, it doesn’t make sense in real life.
I digress (it’s just what I do).  So, my boys wanted to know what ever came of Major Tom.  Did he die?  Did he go somewhere in space?  Does ground control ever hear from him again?  There are two answers I know of.  I started singing "Major Tom – Coming Home" by Peter Schilling.  They know the song, but couldn’t recognize it by my singing.  Ironically, it came on yesterday and the conversation started up again.  In interviews, Peter Schilling said he always loved "Space Oddity", but couldn’t deal with the vague – probably tragic — ending of the song.  He decided to address the story, himself, this time bringing Major Tom back home.  So, if you go by that, Major Tom gets back and is OK.  And we have another realistic sci-fi approach to space travel with a great tune.  And the name is no coincidence.
I think, though, that Peter Schilling perhaps forgot about the song "Ashes to Ashes", again by David Bowie.  In that song, the outcome leaves Major Tom alive, but not with such positive results.  Major Tom is apparently a junky, trying to stay clean and failing, tormented by hallucinations of little green wheels following him.  Bowie fans look at the song as Bowie’s attempt to leave "Space Oddity" in the past so he could move on creatively.  I could never figure out if, based on the second song, the events in the first song ever happened or were hallucinations themselves.
I love all three songs and speculating on what it all means.  The real-life implications of "Ashes to Ashes" are interesting, but not as much to me as the pure storyline perspective.  What do you think?  Has anyone else connected and given thought to all three of these songs?  Does Major Tom appear anywhere I haven’t mentioned?