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Jack White's Spacecraft Just Played a Record 28,000 Metres Above Earth

Space jams.

2 AUG 2016

The record company of famed musician, Jack White, just successfully played a vinyl record on a turntable inside a space-proof box some 28,000 metres (about 92,000 feet) above Earth - something that has never been done before.


The record - which was a mix of composer John Boswell’s A Glorious Dawn and audio clips of Carl Sagan - played for about 80 minutes inside the box, which was sent to space using a high-altitude balloon.

"Our main goal from inception to completion of this project was to inject imagination and inspiration into the daily discourse of music and vinyl lovers," White told The Guardian. "We hope that in meeting our goal we inspire others to dream big and start their own missions, whatever they may be."

To pull off the feat, White and his colleagues at Third Man Records had to come up with a container that could allow a turntable to play the vinyl record without getting destroyed in the harsh conditions of space.

For that, the team turned to Kevin Carrico - an engineer whose father worked on NASA’s Viking missions.

Over the past three years, Carrico has been designing the Icarus Craft to take a vinyl record - which had to be covered in gold to stop it from melting - to the outer limits of the atmosphere using a high-altitude balloon.


"As you rise higher and higher into the thinning atmosphere, temperature and increasing vacuum (lack of air) can cause issues," Carrico told The Guardian. "Vinyl has a rather low melting point (71°C/160°F) and without air to keep things cool, you could wind up with a lump of melted plastic on your hands if a record is exposed to the sun for too long."

After the record played for about 80 minutes, the craft began to descend back down to Earth, where it eventually crashed in a vineyard. Even crazier, the record was still spinning when the team finally recovered it.

"Once the return to Earth began (with the craft attached to a parachute and falling about 4x faster than it rose), the turntable automatically went into 'turbulence mode', where the record continued to spin, but the tone arm was triggered to lift from the record surface and stay in its locked position, to protect both the needle and the record itself," the team says on their YouTube Channel.

"When Icarus reached the ground - a vineyard, to be exact - the record still spun, unfazed by its incredible journey."

While the team had to overcome many hurdles to pull off the project, they aren’t the only ones sending weird objects into orbit in the name of artistry. Back in 2014, a distillery in Scotland sent malt to space to see how space whiskey might taste. As our team reported:

"A vial of malt whisky from Scotland’s Ardbeg Distillery was launched to the International Space Station in October 2011 along with some particles of charred oak. A team from US-based space research organisation NanoRacks said it was an experiment to see how the two interacted in almost zero gravity conditions."

You can check out recent record launch in full in the video below:

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