Catherine Coleman, an astronaut on the International Space Station, has four flutes to choose from, including two from the Irish traditional music group the Chieftains and one which belongs to the Jethro Tull band.
Yesterday she played a couple of tunes for radio and TV interviews. Talking about her experience in space she said she has “a pretty well-rounded spectrum, and I am having a great time up here with them."
The astronaut says she prefers creating music with other people but she is the only flutist among her space crew, so she puts music on in the background and joins in.
She chose to play her own flute for her recent performance. She says part of her job as an astronaut is to share "how amazing it is up here and relate to different groups of people."
"I relate to flute players, and I just wanted them to understand what a cool place it was and how many possibilities there were to play music up here on the Space Station," she said.
Playing an instrument in space does create problems, and Coleman admits she often bumps into objects when she becomes lost in the music and closes her eyes.
The Space Shuttle also offers interesting acoustics as the chambers are padded with cloth bags which absorb sounds.
With a doctorate in polymer science and engineering, Coleman says she is an amateur musician and admits it has been “pretty” neat creating her “own little work with music” while in orbit.
From Massachusetts, the 50-year-old has been in the Space Station since before Christmas. She says she would love to perform with the Chieftains and Jethro Tull for a space-to-ground concert before she returns to Earth in May.