Peter is back with another special report...
>> As this page from Nasa shows, when Astronauts want to chill out in space they get together and make music. The pic above shows Carl E. Walz playing a Yamaha PSR282 keyboard on the International Space Station. You can buy a PSR282 for about £45 on eBay, but getting a 11½lb keyboard into space would have cost NASA around $115,000. Somehow it all seems worth it when you watch this video [tiny QT] of Ed Lu playing it.
>> The real pioneer of music in space was Ron McNair. In 1984, he took a saxophone into space on Challenger. This brilliant page tells the full story, from selecting the right reed for low-pressure playing to the unfortunate 'bubble effect'. Two years later, Ron died in the Challenger Disaster.
Don Pettit took a didgeridoo to the Internation Space Station - he was one of the astronauts stranded by the second shuttle disaster. He had to crash land in a Soviet escape pod in Kazakhstan, leaving the didgeridoo on the space station for future visitors.
>> Visitors to MIR were more fortunate. There was a Spanish Guitar that lived there (that's Gennady Strekalov playing 'Midnight in Moscow' on it in 1985). In 1995, Commander Robert 'Hoot' Gibson took two sets of fresh Gibson strings for the guitar when he visited in 1995.
Back home, 'Hoot' is the guitarist in Max Q, an 'easy rock' band made up of astronauts. They play occasional gigs but unfortunately haven’t yet released classics like 'Another Saturday Night' ("Another sunrise, another sunset, another orbit, another day out of this world/I got devotion, I got emotion, I got the universe/Now all I need is my girl.") Max Q are currently looking for a new drummer, as Capt James Wetherbee retired from Nasa at the beginning of this year. Only spacemen need apply.
>> This page will tell you everything else that you could ever need to know about music in space.
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