The International Space Station Keeps a Guitar Onboard for Psychological Reasons

Sunday, 03 June 2018 - 6:03PM
Space
NASA
Weird Science
Sunday, 03 June 2018 - 6:03PM
The International Space Station Keeps a Guitar Onboard for Psychological Reasons
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NASA
Anybody who got to watch astronaut Chris Hadfield rock out to David Bowie's Space Oddity from the International Space Station (ISS) will know that there's a guitar in space. 

Specifically, it's a Larrivée P-01 guitar, and the guitar became so synonymous with space following the performance that Larrivée now calls it the "P-01 ISS" to remind people that this is the space guitar. But interestingly, the guitar isn't just there because Hadfield wanted an instrument to play in Earth's orbit. 

Having long since returned to Earth, the retired Hadfield recently explained on Twitter that the guitar was actually there for scientific reasons. NASA psychiatrists had sent the instrument up to the ISS way back in 2001 for mental health reasons.




The guitar was launched into space not only to help resolve any "cabin fever" from being cooped up in the ISS, but to help them cope with the jarring change in perspective that comes from looking down at the pale blue dot where we all live. An instrument offers a "link to home", according to former NASA astronaut Carl Walz.



For any space musicians who have different skillsets, the ISS also has a flute, guitar, saxophone, and even a didgeridoo for the same reasons. It's far from the only time that NASA has given the crew fun things to connect them back to their home planet beneath them - just earlier this year, the six astronauts onboard engaged in a zero gravity badminton tournament.

It doesn't appear that the guitar changes much in space, as there's not much that zero gravity can do the strings or whatnot. And the guitar had a pretty big impact on the crew, who have since requisitioned a second guitar.




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