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How to play a guitar in space, according to astronaut Chris Hadfield

First, take your protein pills and put your helmet on.
By Corinne Purtill
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

What is it like to play a guitar in space? No less an authority than Canadian astronaut and former International Space Station (ISS) commander Chris Hadfield has the answer to that question.

Hadfield (now retired) is the decorated astronaut whose 2013 performance of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” aboard the ISS went very viral. He returned to Earth from his final mission that year. On Twitter today (Mar. 28), Hadfield revisited a few questions about the logistics of jamming in orbit.

With no humidity or temperature changes, a guitar in space never needs tuning, says Hadfield. Arm weight helps earth-bound musicians track the placement of frets, so astronaut-musicians have to relearn finger placement without gravity’s help.

There’s no need for a guitar strap—again, no gravity—but the musician needs to be hooked onto a fixed object to avoid floating around bumping into things during a set.

Musicians aboard the ISS play an acoustic Larrivée guitar that has circled the earth more than 50,000 times. An identical model stays on Earth at mission control.

“It’s cool playing a guitar in space,” Hadfield explained on a 2012 visit to the Larrivée factory. Yes. It is.

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