Music In Outer Space

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.

Check out this radio feature at

It is called Space Music: Things seen in the Skies.

I produced it so I'm not gonna big it up too much. It features lots of space music and is written and presented by Ken Hollings.

You should check out the gold disc that was attached to the Voyager Probes in 1977.

Each probe contained a two hour metal record containing images, music, and other sounds and greetings. All the information was encoded onto discs which were coated in copper and gold to protect them on their journey. Each record was accompanied by a stylus and a cartridge, and most importantly, a set of instructions on how to play it.

I love the idea of sending this space 'message in a bottle' in the hope of making contact with other inteligent life forms.

Both probes are about to leave the Solar System after surpassing their predicted mission lifespan.
Hah...the Charlie Brown theme song was the first piano-played tune from space. Another noteable first for Charles Shulz. My hero!!
Intriguing article. For the record, the real pioneer of music in space was Yuri Gagarin who sang a piece by Dmitri Shostakovich with the title "The Motherland is Listening" as he descended back to earth. This is the first piece of music ever performed in space and was heard by many million Soviet citizens and others.
great, my tax $$$s at work.
you'd think the ISS would have some computing power available for a softsynth or two.
Oh yeah I imagine the very busy astronauts on teir 10 minute free time to fire up reason and play it without a midi controller or even a mouse as all computers are either voice or trackball controlled on the ISS ( mice don't seem to work as well foating around the station ) Not to mention that nearly none of the ISSs' computers run any OS supported by a softsynth programmer except for a crappy 800 MHZ laptop (used for "e-mail" updated twice a day) that sports a really intuitive touchpad. How much fun would that be? Even if it costs 115000£ to get it up there, they deserve to have AT LEAST that much, risking theyr @$$es for the sake of research and progress.

This would go like this:
Astronaut 1: "Hey wanna jam some tunes,"
Astronaut 2: "Ok dude, let me just finish those 2 patterns and set up this new kick ass plugin and we're ready to go tomorrow"
Astronaut 1: "Tomorrow? can't you divert power from the lifesupport or reverse the polarity on the warpfield emitters to speed tgis up a little?"
Astronaut 2: " Ok forget it, I bring my keyboard next time!"
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