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Jack White’s Third Man Records Plays a Carl Sagan Track at 94,000 Feet

Well it happened, folks: Jack White’s Third Man Records, in tandem with Students and Teachers in Near Space, officially became the first people to play a phonographic record in space (well, technically at the very edge of it).

Two weeks ago, we shared rumors that Jack White was planning something that involved Carl Sagan, vinyl, and space. Last week we confirmed that White and Company were planning to play the gold-plated master of Carl Sagan’s 2010 single, “A Glorious Dawn”—the label’s three millionth pressed record—aboard a customized “space-proof” turntable called Icarus. In the video above, you can watch the craft ascend to 94,000 feet, playing the song on repeat for the near two-hour climb toward our outer limits.

TMR aired the pre-recorded video at release parties this past Saturday, sharing some insight into the project’s creation process. The gold-plated record, while clearly a tribute to Voyager 1’s infamous Golden Record, also has practical implications, as key designer Kevin Carrico explained via Engadget. Protecting the record was of utmost importance, and the gold plating would help the vinyl from succumbing to the stratosphere’s low air levels. Carrico and his team also added a heat sink-like platter to keep the record free of distortion and a small flight computer that paused the record during particularly rough stretches.

The launch took place near Marsing, Idaho and, as you can see in the video, everything went off without a hitch. Icarus rises to the 94,413 feet (see the 1:21:20 mark), still sending Carl Sagan’s sagacious words into the cosmic expanse, before the balloon pops and the turntable comes hurdling back toward earth. With the aid of a parachute, Icarus successfully returned home with the record still spinning.

Third Man Records are known for their pioneering vinyl stunts, but this one takes the cake. Check out the video and let us know what you think in the comments below.

Image: David James Swanson

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