The noted American acoustic instrument manufacturer C.F. Martin & Co. recently announced a handcrafted and one-of-a-kind soprano ukulele specifically to join the Inspiration4 crew for their upcoming Space X mission. Martin’s space-bound ukulele will be strummed by astronaut Chris Sembroski during the mission, clearly a first for space travel, then, signed by the crew and ultimately auctioned off with proceeds to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Not only does the ukulele look great adorned with the Inspiration4 mission patch inlaid on the fingerboard by master craftsman Brent Williams, and travel well, it also represents man’s love of music, concern for his home planet, and his fellow man.
The Innovation 4 ukulele is made from sinker mahogany, an environmentally friendly and magnificent-sounding tonewood harvested from fallen logs that were submerged in the rivers of Belize over 200 years ago. The choice of this material aligns squarely with Martin Guitar’s values, unwavering commitment to environmental sustainability, and responsible manufacturing practices. Martin products, often held as the definitive reference across all genres of music and in all segments of pop culture, have continually driven the acoustic guitar market forward, introducing innovative features and manufacturing processes, many of which have become standards across the industry.
No strangers to travel and adventure, in 1926 a Martin ukulele called the Konter Uke famously tagged along on Admiral Richard Byrd’s exhibition to the North Pole. And in 1994, the first guitar to ever go to space was a specially designed Martin Backpacker model that hitched a ride with astronaut Pierre Thuot on the space shuttle Columbia. So, it’s no exaggeration to say that Martin guitars and ukuleles have been just about everywhere on earth and beyond.
Like the Konter Uke that made the trip to the North Pole, the Inspiration4 ukulele is a soprano uke, the smallest Martin Guitar makes. Though diminutive in size, the sinker mahogany body (top, back, and sides) gives it a bass-rich sound and more volume than typical mahogany. The bridge and fingerboard are made of FSC certified rosewood.
Inspiration4, the world’s first all-civilian mission to orbit the earth, will leave Earth from Kennedy Space Center’s historic Launch Complex, the embarkation point for Apollo and Space Shuttle missions, and travel across a low earth orbit on a multi-day journey that will continually eclipse more than 90 percent of the earth’s population. This milestone represents a new era for human spaceflight and exploration, as well as for ukuleles in space.
The Inspiration4 mission was named in recognition of the four-person crew that will raise awareness and funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, a renowned pediatric treatment and research facility located in Memphis, Tennessee. The facility is focused on children’s catastrophic diseases, particularly leukemia and other cancers, and costs about $2.8 million a day to run, but patients are not charged for their care. The Martin ukulele is expected to play a key role in the Inspiration4 mission’s goal of raising $200 million in funds for St. Jude’s.