Martin ukulele set for space in first-ever all-civilian astronaut SpaceX expedition

Martin ukulele and Chris Sembroski
(Image credit: Martin Guitar / SpaceX)

Where is the craziest place you’ve played a ukulele? Whatever your answer is, it will have to be something seriously impressive to beat this effort from astronaut Chris Sembroski, who is about to take a Martin uke to space with him for what promises to be an out-of-this-world performance.

Sembroski is set to take part in SpaceX’s three-day Inspiration4 expedition – the first-ever private all-civilian mission to orbit the Earth – which aims to raise $200 million in funds for St. Jude Children’s research hospital.

And, when he’s taking a break navigating the void of space, engaging in his day-to-day duties as an astronaut and ensuring a safe space exploration, Sembroski will have the perfect pastime – his one-off Martin ukulele. A necessity for any space travel, of course.

He will be joined on the trip by entrepreneur, mission commander and Inspiration4 funder Jared Isaacman, as well science communicator Sian Proctor and chief medical officer Hayley Arcenaux – all of whom will no doubt appreciate Sembroski’s serenading during the trip.

Martin ukulele

(Image credit: Martin Guitar / SpaceX)

Upon reaching the Earth’s orbit, the ukulele will be played by Sembroski for a special performance, and, after being safely returned to solid ground, will be auctioned off in aid of St. Jude’s.

In terms of specs, the fearless soprano-sized four-string was custom-built for the purpose of accompanying the crew, and features eco-minded sinker mahogany top, back and sides, as well as a sinker mahogany neck topped with an FSC-certified rosewood fingerboard.

For the pièce de résistance, the one-of-a-kind uke features a meticulously inserted inlay – created by master craftsman Brent Williams – which recreates the team’s mission patch using gloss acrylic, recon stone black mother of pearl, recon stone Dark Lapis, recon stone chrysocolla, and corian.

Martin ukuleles seem to have a knack for cropping up in some truly obscure places. In 1926, one accompanied Admiral Richard Byrd on his trip to the North Pole. 

Heck, it’s not even the first Martin to experience space – Pierre Thout took his Backpacker acoustic guitar with him on the Space Shuttle Columbia in 1994.

The expedition is scheduled to launch on September 15, though if you miss the event, do not fear – the entire mission is the subject of an ongoing Time/Netflix documentary, titled Countdown: Inspiration4 Mission To Space.

There’s only one question left on everyone’s lips: What will Sembroski play? A uke-heavy reimagining of Joe Satriani’s Surfing With The Alien? Or how about David Bowie’s Space Oddity (as per Chris Hadfield)? 

Head over to the Inspiration4 mission website to find out more.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.