In our ongoing look at the sounds from space, here’s another angle: the same day as astronauts Thomas Pesquet (ESA) and Shane Kimbrough (NASA) were making an “Extravehicular activity” (EVA / “space walk”) outside the International Space Station, we have publicly available, openly licensed sound from that experience.

This is more spoken word than ambient sound, of course. At the same time, you get a feeling for what the routine of this work is like. This is humans doing what still challenges robotic instruments – space maintenance. (Without humans, the in-flight repair of Hubble, for instance, would never have happened.) That’s narrated most clearly by CAPCOM Jessica Meire and PAO Dan Huot. (“CAPCOM” is a now-anachronistic term, referring to Capsule Communicator; PAO is the Public Affairs Officer, narrating a bit like color commentary over a golf tournament, only even slower and way geekier.)

So, it’s routine. But now… to those silences, imagine peering over your feet at open space above the planet. (And tell me you don’t get a little dizzy doing that.)

As Thomas said of the picture: “This is what a spacewalk is: 400 km of void under your feet.”

So, there you are, music lovers. Challenges for our community:

Can audio like this prove useful in samples and remixing, without falling back on the cliché of dull CAPCOM chatter over techno tracks?

Can you envision other means of sound collection in situations like this? (Before you say “there’s no sound in space,” various forms of vibration detectors can capture the equivalent of sound even in something like an EVA.)

And with or without this audio, can you produce music that sounds like 400 meters of nothingness? (No, just stealing that title for your next ambient album does not count. I can see you.)

I’ll leave you with that thought.

Photo by ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst , from a 2015 spacewalk. Photo source ESA/NASA.

Photo by ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst, from a 2015 spacewalk. Photo source ESA/NASA.

But the important thing is, ESA has shortened the time to releasing content. That’s a glimpse of a real-time commons that follows science, including audio – and that says a lot about the promise of what commons material could provide for culture:

Space Sounds from ESA are Now Free to Use on SoundCloud

European Space Agency just gave away a bunch of space media for use

More on today:

Two more spacewalks for Thomas Pesquet

  • Max

    Sonically boring. Zzzzz.
    Message in the text – more boredom.
    Send a poet up there, or we will have to listen to more boring ramblings about opening the hatch and screwdrivers.
    This isn’t the apollo missions anymore, reading the bible while circling the moon.

    Sure you can mangle it up to get something nice, but at that point you could just take any random spocken word sample without much difference. So what would be the point of the exercise?
    Are you still confused by the metric system? Meters aren’t kilometers.

    • Jaybeeg

      Before you dismissively correct the typos of others, you should probably correct your own. Just saying.

      The interesting thing here isn’t this particular recording, but the fact that this stuff is available in the public domain to reuse as we wish.

      • Max

        I don’t mind typos, us long as they don’t change the meaning. Just saying. 😉

        To bad that the audio is so boring,
        the images are much more interesting.

        • Max

          Or do you find any inspiration in the sonic material from ESA?

          • Marco Trovatello

            Try to work on your imagination – this is what this recording is about. If you reduce this to the audio only, it is just radiophony, yes (which IMHO is still cool, but … let’s drop this for a mo). If you imagine that even during radio silence the astronaut has ‘400 km of void’ plus a blue marble under his feet, this becomes so much more than just voice radio. So, in the end, if you use, re-use, remix it into one of your tracks, it’d be also about you and your track to reflect this, beyond – as Peter correctly points out – producing the next boring ambient space soundtrack.