At first, tunes from ground control were used to stave off boredom, help astronauts relax or wake them up at the beginning of the day. But in recent years songs have become more personal and astronauts have even begun performing in orbit – using music as a way of communicating the wonders of spaceflight to audiences around the world.
On Monday 6 May, schools and communities across North America will join together for Music Monday - an annual event celebrating the importance of music. This year's official song - ISS (is somebody singing) - has been co-written by astronaut and musician Chris Hadfield, who is currently onboard the International Space Station (ISS). He will also be perfoming the song live from space.
The event is the latest in a long line of firsts from space. Here we countdown thirteen other cosmic "premieres". Our list has been put together with the help of Nasa, the European Space Agency (ESA), the Canadian Space Agency and several astronauts from the Apollo missions right up to the present day.
We have also compiled a BBC Future space playlist on Spotify, featuring some of the selections. However, we know it is by no means definitive. So if you have suggestions for the ultimate space mix tape or know of another “first”, head over to our Facebook or Twitter page.
13. First music played to a spacecraft
It is early morning on 12 April 1961. After a sleepless night, Yuri Gagarin has been bussed out to the Baikonur launch pad and helped into his Vostok capsule. Strapped tightly to his couch, with the hatch bolted shut behind him, he now has nothing to do but wait. With his launch delayed by last minute technical glitches, the initial excitement and tension of this historic day is beginning to wear off. In short, the first spaceman is getting a little bored.
Mission control asks him how he is faring and Gagarin suggests that music might help. As the countdown continues, technicians eventually manage to pipe records of Russian love songs into the capsule.
12. First wake-up song played to an astronaut crew
The tradition of waking American astronauts with a song from Earth, instead of an alarm clock, started during the two day Gemini 6 mission in 1965 with a version of Hello Dolly. Since then wake up calls to Gemini, Apollo, Skylab and Shuttle crews have included everything from Beethoven to Bowie (Space Oddity, of course) and Tchaikovsky to 10,000 Maniacs. Pretty much every genre of music is represented in the list, with the exception of thrash metal.
The practice came to an end with the final Shuttle mission in July 2011. But in an effort to make every morning memorable, wake up music during this flight included Viva La Vida by Coldplay, Mr Blue Sky by ELO and Celebration by Kool and the Gang. The crew was also roused by a special message from Elton John and the, inevitable, Rocket Man, a capella rendering of Man on the Moon performed by REM’s Michael Stipe; and personal greetings from Paul McCartney and Houston girl Beyonce.
Other memorable wake-up calls to spacefarers have included a message from Captain James T Kirk himself, William Shatner, during the final Discovery mission. Although, thankfully, he did not perform a rendition of his own, unique, version of Rocket Man. Wake-up messages have also been used during the lunar rover missions to Mars, when music is played to rouse control room engineers at the start of another Martian day.
11. First cassette player in space… and first ‘lost’ cassette in space
“We were the first to take our own music,” Apollo 9 astronaut Rusty Schweickart tells me, “one cassette each.” The audio cassette players flown on Apollo had to be specially adapted to stop the tape unravelling in zero gravity. Anyone who’s ever rewound a tangled tape with a pencil will understand the issue.