“I had a lot of Belgium rock bands,” De Winne says. “I like good rock music.”
By the time of his 2009 flight, cassettes, records, and even CDs, had been superseded by MP3s. “You can have iPods or recordings on your laptops,” he explains. “The music is recorded for you and sent up to you on the Space Station.”
As with the Apollo missions, listening to music often remains a communal experience. “Around the table we always had some music playing in the evening,” he says. “It was the task of every astronaut in turn to choose the music.”
And De Winne can also boast another musical first…
6. First stadium tour from orbit
“[U2 lead singer] Bono approached Nasa and wanted to do something with the European guy on the space station,” De Winne explains. “I happily obliged because I also had U2 music with me on the space station, and it’s a great band of course.”
The idea was that De Winne would appear on screen during sell-out concerts being staged around Europe. However, the astronaut had reservations. “Me singing a song is not a good idea for a large audience. With my talents, the stadium would empty very quickly!”
Instead, De Winne ended up conveying video greetings and reciting poems from space. “It was an opportunity to show to the world that the space station exists and we were doing something good for the future of humanity.”
5. First music transmitted from another planet
In August 2012, will.i.am’s Reach for the Stars was transmitted 1,100 million km (700 million miles) across space from the Curiosity rover on Mars. The lyrics aimed at inspiring young people to…reach for the stars.
The catchy tune was backed by a $10 million schools initiative from the musician’s foundation. Speaking at the song’s first public performance from the red planet, he said: "I know my purpose is to inspire young people, because they will keep inspiring me back."
4. First music to leave the Solar System
There has been some debate recently over whether Voyager One has left the Solar System yet but it is certainly getting close. Strapped to the side of each of the Voyager spacecraft are golden records with a handy diagram of instructions about how to play them.
The tracks on these disks were carefully chosen to communicate the sounds of Earth to any aliens. They include recordings ranging from babies crying to the blast-off of a Saturn 5 Moon rocket. They also feature music from Bach and Mozart as well as Peruvian panpipes and Azerbaijani bagpipes.
3. First instruments flown in space
Early on, it seems, astronauts were not just content with listening to music. Instead, they began to take instruments with them. The first instruments believed to have been flown into space were a harmonica and bell on Gemini 6 in December 1965. They were used by astronauts Walter "Wally" Schirra and Tom Stafford to perform Jingle Bells.
Since then, plenty of others have flown. For example, Nasa astronaut Cady Coleman took three flutes and a penny whistle into space during her last mission to the ISS in 2011. “I brought other people’s flutes with me,” says Coleman. “I feel very strongly that no-one goes on a journey like this alone, that we all take other people with us, and so to be able to share the journey by taking other people’s instruments up as well was something that I really wanted to do.”