The International Space Orchestra

World first orchestra composed of Space Scientists from NASA Ames Research Center and SETI Institute

1-The International Space Orchestra, a project by Nelly Ben Hayoun- Copyright Nelly Ben hayoun, Photo Neil berrett
The International Space Orchestra- picture Neil Berrett © Nelly Ben Hayoun

The International Space Orchestra

See more pictures on Bruce Sterling’s Flickr

See teaser on the International Space Orchestra Vimeo

The International Space Orchestra (ISO) is a team of space scientists from the  NASA Ames Research Center SETI Institute (Search for Extraterrestrial Life), Singularity University, and the International Space University. In the summer of 2012 in California, ISO performed Ground Control: An Opera in Space composed by a team including:

_ Blur and Gorillaz frontman DAMON ALBARN with BOBBY WOMACK and producer Richard Russell, arranged by GORILLAZ Musical Director MIKE SMITH

_ Japanese superstar and Otamatone inventor, MAYWA DENKI

_ Featuring original music by PENGUIN CAFE‘s ARTHUR JEFFES

_With lyrics by science fiction author BRUCE STERLING and writer JASMINA TESANOVIC

_ Musical director: Two time Grammy-Award winner EVAN PRICE.

A project directed, produced and created by designer Nelly Ben Hayoun.

ISO members includes NASA Flight Director, Rusty Hunt, performing the role of Eagle, a Capcom (triangle), and NASA center Deputy Director (Lewis Braxton performing the gong) and a NASA astronaut (Yvonne Cagle: percussion).

ISO’s first performance took place in front of the World largest windtunnel 80x 120 foot in NASA Ames Research Center on September 6th 2012  (see Teaser here) and its second in San Jose during the ZERO1 Biennial (North America’s most significant showcase of work at the nexus of art and technology). In addition, public talks by leading NASA and SETI scientists were curated, giving insights into missions that inspired the musical composition. These included presentations by

Jacob Cohen,
Chief Scientist, NASA Ames Research Center

Roger Hunter,
Kepler Mission Manager, NASA Ames Research Center

Gerry Harp,
Director of SETI Research

Rusty Hunt,
Flight Director  LCROSS and LADEE, NASA Ames Research Center

John Cumbers,
Synthetic Biology Progam, NASA Ames Research Center

Ground Control: An Opera in Space was recorded at Skywalker Ranch, George Lucas‘ studio, where Star Wars was developed.

In January 2013, the International Space Orchestra feature film had its world premiere at the prestigious Rotterdam International Film Festival and then started a world tour. ISO extends the notion of the `design’ in terms of scope, scale, and methods of engagement towards architecture, installations, environments, social system, performances, experiences and narratives, as events. See more about the film here

In May 2013, the International Space Orchestra performed at the San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall, in front of 2,700 people with singer BECK. They got a standing ovation for their live performance.

As well as being an unconventional public space outreach event, ISO also acts as an experiential and hybrid interdisciplinary research environment in which space scientists and engineers were invited to implement, deconstruct, perform, sing, mix, modify, and design musical acts in control rooms, acting as a provocation to imagine and human relationships with science and technology and the way in which they can relate to our creative needs.

The International Space Orchestra record is to be sent in space on 5th August, lifting off from Japan on board of a payload for the International Space Station, two satellites ran by the company Nanosatisfi will play the ISO recordings.



Full credit and team on

*Director and International Space Orchestra’s creator: Nelly Ben Hayoun
*International Space Orchestra Musical Director: Evan Price
*Gorillaz’s Musical Director: Michael Smith
*Choir Conductors: Jimmy Kansau,  Joel Chapman and Eric Tuan
*Project Manager: Phoebe Greenwood
*Produced by Nelly Ben Hayoun Studio with kind support of Phoebe Greenwood.
* A NASA Ames educational outreach activity
* Endorsed by the International Space University and Singularity University
* With the kind support of XL Recordings
*The International Space Orchestra, Ground-Control: An Opera in Space is commissioned by ZERO1 Biennial with support fromZ33, House for Contemporary Art, Montalvo Arts Center, the Science and Technology Corporation, Taksha University and V2_ .
* Curated by Michelle Kasprzak, V2_, Guest curator, ZERO1 Biennial

The International Space Orchestra’s music has been composed and arranged by:

* GROUND- CONTROL: A Neil Armstrong Tribute, an Opera in 3 acts, co-written by LCROSS and LADEE Flight Director Rusty Hunt and Nelly Ben Hayoun based on the Apollo 11 transcripts, arranged by EVAN PRICE (World Premiere)

* The Bravest Man In The Universe: music and lyrics by DAMON ALBARN, BOBBY WOMACK, HAROLD PAYNE and RICHARD RUSSELL. Arranged by MIKE SMITH for the International Space Orchestra

* Wow Signal – 1420 Fanfare PENGUIN CAFE, ARTHUR JEFFES (World Premiere)

* Auraura Choralis, PENGUIN CAFEARTHUR JEFFES (World Premiere)

* Kimi Wa Epuron, Boku Wa Pantaron , MAYWA DENKI, Nobumichi Tosa, arranged by Satoru Wono for the International Space Orchestra

* The Kepler Aria, Trad music arranged by Evan Price for the International Space Orchestra, lyrics by BRUCE STERLING and JASMINA TESANOVIC

The International Space Orchestra, Ground-control: An Opera in Space is being performed by:

+ Dr Pete Worden, Head of NASA Ames Research Center- Gong
+ Jacob Cohen, Chief scientist, NASA Ames Research Center- Gong
+ Rusty Hunt, NASA Flight Director LCROSS Lunar Impactor, NASA Ames Research Center- Saxophone
+ Barbara Jo Navarro, Asst. Chief, Flight Systems Implementation Branch at NASA Ames Research Center- Trumpet
+ Yvonne Cagle, NASA Astronaut, NASA Ames Research Center- Bass Drum and triangle
+ Gregory D Paulson, ARC-P, Universities Space Research Association-Trombone
+ Mary Paulson, Gregory N. Paulson’s mother-Flute and Piccolo
+ Ralph Bach, Analyst at NASA Ames Research Center, Aviation and Aerospace- Trumpet
+ Frank Caradonna, Aeronautical engineer, NASA Ames Research Center, NASA Ames Jazz Band- Piano
+ Robert ‘Bob’ Crow, Retired, NASA Ames Jazz Band- Saxophone
+ Matthew J Daigle,Research Computer Scientist Intelligent Systems Division NASA Ames Research Center- Guitar
+ Paul K Davis, Instrument Development Technical Group, NASA Ames Research Center- Viola and violin
+Johnathan.W.Conley, NASA Ames research Center-Percussion
+ Larry Farnsley, Electrical Engineer, NASA Ames Jazz Band- String and electric bass
+ Theodore Garbeff,Research engineer at the experimental fluid physics branch, NASA Ames Research Center- Violin
+ Elisabeth B Gee Giessler, Google Employee- Violin
+ Michael A. K. Gross, Software and systems engineer for SOFIA, NASA Ames- Trombone
+ Lukas Gruendler,Research Assistant at SETI Institute- Trombone
+ Vanessa Kuroda, Code RE Electronics Engineer, LADEE Communications, NASA Ames- Piano
+ Matthew Linton,IT Security Specialist at NASA Ames Research Center- Cello
+ Gregory Lindsay,NASA Ames Jazz Band- Drums
+ Rodney Martin,Computer engineer, Intelligent Data Understanding (IDU) Group, NASA Ames Research Center- Percussion and triangle
+ Veronica Phillips,Technical writer, Stinger Gaffarian Technologies, Inc-Clarinet
+ Annette Rodrigues,Former associate director for Center Operations at NASA Ames Research Center, NASA Ames Bluegrass Band- Ukulele
+ David P Roland,Optics Engineer, Telescope Technologist-Dobro and ukulele
+ Peter J Robinson,Computer Scientist at NASA Ames Research Center- Bassoon
+ Arthur Schwartz,Retired, founder and ex-officio member of the Air and Space Education Foundation- French Horn
+ Michael A Wilson,NASA Ames Astrobiology Institute- Saxophone
+ Janice Bishop, Senior Research Scientist, SETI Institute- clarinet
+ Scott Poll, Intelligent Systems Division. NASA Ames Research Center- violin


+ Aileen Aniciete, Administrative Assistant Intern, NASA Ames Research Center
+ Leighton Anunciacion, Technology Partnerships Division, Deltha-Critique. NASA Ames Research Center
+ Karen Bradford, Chief of Staff, NASA Ames Research Center
+ Craig D Burkhard, Micro 6 Project Advisor, NASA Ames Research Center
+ John Cumbers, Synthetic Biology Program, NASA Ames Research Center
+ Zhenzhen Cumbers, John Cumbers’ daughter
+ Emeline Paat-Dahlstrom, VP, Operations, Singularity University
+ Aleta Hayes, Lecturer, Stanford, and NASA Ames collaborator
+ Michaela Herman, Web developer, NASA Ames Research Center
+ Sarah Hobart, LADEE, Software and Space Systems manager NASA Ames Research Center
+ Geoffrey Lee, Project Manager, NASA Research Park
+ Derek Love, Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity, NASA Ames Research Center
+ Laura Shawnee, Education Specialist at NASA Ames Research Center
+ Marianne Ryan, Director of Leadership & Engagement at Singularity University
+ Jasmina Tesanovic, ISO Librettist
+ Ellen Schwartz, Arthur Schwartz’s daughter
+ Jonathan Knowles, Design Chair, Singularity University


Director and Camera: Nelly Ben Hayoun
Camera operator: Karna Sigurðardóttir and Viktor Sebastian
Sound Mixer supervisor: Alan Chang
Camera Assistant: Gregory Singer
Camera Assistant(Flying Couscous Party): Finn Liss
Editing: Bob Weisz

Ways-Means film crew:

Shooter/camera crew director – Sebastian Pardo
Producer – Lana Kim
Director of Photography – Autumn Durald
Shooter – Matthew Miller
Shooter – Jeff Webster
Production Assistant – Stephen Pagano
Sound Recordist: Anthony Enns
Shooter: Jeff J Webster
Sound Engineer / Mixer Jiwoo Han
Production Assistant: Dylan DiMaggio

ISO Graphics

Web Design: Studio Myers
International Space Orchestra vinyl cover artwork: Phil Lee
ISO Catalogue and Invites: Martin Schapiro
International Space Orchestra logo and ISO Logo Patch, Graphic Design by David Benque
First mission Patch design by Timothy Gagnon and Jorge Cartes
Nelly Ben Hayoun Studio Graphic Designer: Maria-Inès Chevallier


Neil Berrett and Nelly Ben Hayoun

Skywalker Sound:

Leslie Ann Jones
Phil Benson