Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield performed and recorded the David Bowie classic 'Space Oddity' aboard the International Space Station, eliciting praise from Major Tom himself.
Forget the Hollywood Bowl or Lincoln Center. The space age has opened a new venue for rock music, jazz, even a brief rumble or two from a homemade didgeridoo – the International Space Station, whirring vent fans and all.
And you thought it was just an orbiting national lab!
Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield is the latest in a line of astronauts dating back to the NASA's Gemini program in the 1960s to display considerable musical talent in space.
On the eve of his departure from the station Monday, the lanky, guitar-plucking Canadian unveiled a slick rendition of David Bowie's "Space Oddity," Major Tom's launch and farewell to Earth – the first rock-music video sung and shot in space.
Back in December 1965, the duo treated ground controllers to a rendition of Jingle Bells as their Gemini 6A capsule orbited Earth. Schirra played a tiny, eight-holed harmonica, and Stafford had the sleigh bells – both instruments cosmic contraband at the time because space was so tight in the two-seat capsule. The Smithsonian Institution has dubbed the event the first live-music performance in space.
These days, the ISS boasts an electronic keyboard, and crew members are free to have small instruments sent up – from guitars and flutes to saxophones. It's all in the name of crew morale. Crew members spend six-month stints on the station. With down time from about midday Saturdays through Sundays, the crew has time to keep honed whatever musical skills they bring along.