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Cady the Astronaut Toodles the Flute

Okay, that title only makes sense if “McNamara’s Band” is running through your head.

Astronaut Catherine “Cady” Coleman entertained reporters and fellow crew members today with a little impromptu concert on one of the four flutes she took along on her mission to the International Space Station This flute is hers.  She also has a Penny Whistle and an Irish flute belonging to members of the Chieftans, a Celtic band, and one from Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson. Here’s the video from YouTube:

Believe it or not, this is not the first time a flute has been carried along on a space mission. In 2002  John Herrington, the first Native American astronaut, took a handmade flute along on a space shuttle mission and played a chorus of  “Amazing Grace” on it.

Ellen Ochoa studied to be a classical musician before being accepted into NASA’s astronaut training program, and she also took her flute when she spent time on the space station in 2003.

As it turns out, guitars and keyboards have also made the trip. Astronauts are generally allowed to take 2 pounds worth of personal items into space with them. There are rules for what may and may not go, and one of the rules is that all proposed “carry-ons” must be easily stowable, safe to use in tight spaces (I’m guessing a fiddle would be a definite “no”), and must be able to withstand 72 hours at 120-degrees.

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