Kraftwerk welcomed a very special guest during their performance at Stuttgart’s Jazz Open Festival yesterday: German astronaut Alexander Gerst, who’s currently stationed hundreds of miles above the Earth’s surface on the International Space Station. “Good evening Kraftwerk! Good evening Stuttgart! I am one of only six people in space, on the outpost of humanity, the International Space Station (ISS), 400 kilometers above sea level,” Gerst told the audience during a video call to the stage from space.
“The ISS is a Man-Machine, the most complex and valuable machine humankind has ever built,” he continued. “Here in the European Columbus Laboratory, the successor to the Spacelab, the European Space Agency (ESA) is researching things that will improve daily life on Earth. More than 100 different nations work together peacefully here and achieve things that a single nation could never achieve. We are developing technologies onboard the ISS to grow beyond our current horizons and prepare to take further species into spaces, to the Moon and Mars.”
Gerst then helped Kraftwerk close out their set, using a tablet computer configured with a virtual synthesizer to perform a duet of the pioneering German band’s 1978 track “Spacelab.” Watch video of the performance below.
Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield famously recorded a cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” and played a space-to-Earth duet with the Barenaked Ladies in 2013. American astronaut Ron McNair planned to play saxophone with Jean Michel Jarre from orbit in 1986 but died in the Challenger space shuttle disaster.