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A heroic space flute duet

Two stellar flutists — NASA astronaut Cady Coleman and Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson — honor the 50-year anniversary of the first human spaceflight with a duet. The flute-packing Coleman performed on the International Space Station, while Anderson plays on Earth, where he was getting for a concert in Perm, Russia.

The space duet performance honors Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin's 108 minute orbital flight in the Vostok 1 spacecraft on April 12, 1961 and "the role humans play in the exploration of our universe past, present and future," Coleman says just before she launches into Bourée.

Coleman is becoming well known for her flute performances on the space station. She played a St. Patrick's Day concert on NASA TV and also recorded a session for the DMI Music house music festival in Austin, Texas, which includes a tour of her space station digs. The astronaut brought four flutes with her to the orbital outpost, including her own instrument, an Irish flute and a pennywhistle from The Chieftans and a loaner from Anderson, who has a soft spot for space explorers.

"Thanks, Colonel Catherine Coleman in the International Space Station," he says at the end of the duet. "We should remember that today's cosmonauts, scientists, and astronauts are still every bit the rocket heroes they were 50 years ago."


John Roach is a contributing writer for msnbc.com. Connect with the Cosmic Log community by hitting the "like" button on the Cosmic Log Facebook page or following msnbc.com's science editor, Alan Boyle, on Twitter (@b0yle).