Kraftwerk Plays 'Spacelab' Live With An In-Orbit German Astronaut The electronic music pioneers took part in a live earth-to-space collaboration of "Spacelab" with astronaut Alexander Gerst.
NPR logo Kraftwerk Plays 'Spacelab' Live With An In-Orbit German Astronaut

Kraftwerk Plays 'Spacelab' Live With An In-Orbit German Astronaut

Kraftwerk performs with ISS astronaut Alexander Gerst. picture alliance/Getty Images hide caption

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Kraftwerk performs with ISS astronaut Alexander Gerst.

picture alliance/Getty Images

First things first: Why hasn't this happened, yet? Kraftwerk, thinking about and making electronic sounds for the future since 1970, performed with an astronaut in-orbit live on Friday night. The collaboration, with German astronaut Alexander Gerst — currently on the International Space Station (ISS) — closed out Kraftwerk's set at the Jazz Open Festival on Stuttgart's Schlossplatz.

With Kraftwerk co-founder Ralf Hütter, Gerst played the robo-emotional melody from — what else? — The Man-Machine track "Spacelab," a song released 20 years before the ISS' first module was launched, in 1998. The time lag makes for a few hiccups, but honestly, how many of us can say we've performed with an astronaut in space?

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After a few minutes, Gerst gave a little space lesson: "The ISS is a 'man-machine,' the most complex and valuable machine humankind has ever built." He also reminded the audience that "more than 100 different nations work together peacefully here and achieve things that a single nation could never achieve."

"Let's continue to make future music," Hütter implored, making us jealous of Gerst's enviable tablet synth software as he once again plays the "Spacelab" melody before, you know, tending to his space duties.