First musical instrument in space

First musical instrument in space
Wally Schirra, Tom Stafford
Not Applicable
16 December 1965

The first musical instruments in space were a Hohner "Little Lady" harmonica and a set of small bells, used by NASA astronauts Walter "Wally" Schirra and Tom Stafford (both USA) to perform the Christmas carol "Jingle Bells" during the Gemini VI (also called Gemini 6A) mission on 16 December 1965.

The Hohner "Little Lady" measures just 4 x 1.3 x 1 cm, and was smuggled aboard as a joke by the two astronauts. At 13:35 on 16 December, shortly before they were due to begin re-entry, Wally Schirra interrupted the slow back-and-forth of status updates and instructions with the following communication:

"Gemini VII, this is Gemini VI. We have an object, looks like a satellite going from north to south, probably in a polar orbit. He's in a very low trajectory traveling from north to south and has a very high climbing ratio. It looks like it might even be a ... Very low. Looks like he mlght be going to reenter soon. Stand by one ... You might just let me try to pick up that thing."

Schirra and Stafford then played "Jingle Bells" on their smuggled instruments, to the surprise of mission control and the crew of Gemini VII, who were in orbit at the same time. Today the harmonica is in the collection of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.