Astronaut Chris Sembroksi is taking a Martin ukulele into space

Martin Uke Space
(Image credit: Martin Guitar / SpaceX)

Place yourself in astronaut Chris Sembroksi's moon boots for a second. You have to pack before being launched into space. You've got your freeze-dried ice cream, a spare set of underwear, a toothbrush. What else do you need?

Well, in Sembroksi's case, he is taking a custom-made Martin ukulele. Sure, one could argue that in space it is a luxury but if you are going to take a stringed instrument, the uke is a practical, compact choice. This one in particular is made from sustainable sinker mahogany, and it even has the Inspiration4 mission logo inlaid on the fingerboard. 

Better still, the soprano ukulele will later be signed by the crew and auctioned off for St Jude Children’s Research Hospital, with the mission hoping to raise $200 million.

Sembroksi's ukulele is totally unique, with its detailed inlay work carried out by Martin's master craftsman Brent Williams. And according to Martin, it joins a number of its instruments that have made the journey to far-flung frontiers and, indeed, the final frontier.  

Martin Ukulele

(Image credit: Martin Guitar / SpaceX)

Admiral Richard Byrd took a Martin ukulele along with him on his 1926 mission to the North Pole – bet he enjoyed playing that with frosty fingers. While a Martin Backpacker travel guitar became the first six-string in space when astronaut Pierre Thout took one on the the Space Shuttle Columbia in 1994.

In space, no one can hear you scream, but they can hear you strum. And while we have no evidence of Sembroksi's chops on video, we'd like to think he has spent some of his training hours adapting Joe Satriani's Surfing With The Alien for uke – just in case.

The Inspiration4 mission lifts off from the Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A on 15 September, and the three-day voyage is the world’s first all-civilian mission to orbit. It is commanded by Jared Isaacman, who when not skippering space craft is the 38-year-old founder and CEO of Shift4 Payments. You can read more about it here.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.