Artist News

Third Man Records launches record player into space

By | Published on Tuesday 2 August 2016

Jack White

You remember when Felix Baumgartner went up high enough above the Earth that he was technically in space and then did a parachute jump? That was quite impressive, wasn’t it? Well Jack White’s Third Man Records just did the same thing with a record player. Not quite as impressive though I guess.

No, come on, let’s all stop being so bloody cynical. A record was played in what is technically space and that is a great achievement, isn’t it? I mean, isn’t it? Is it? I don’t know. But it has happened, and that’s probably worth talking about for a couple of minutes.

Launched into the air attached to a helium balloon to mark the seventh anniversary of the record label, the record player played Carl Sagan’s ‘A Glorious Dawn’ on repeat all the way up. Then eventually the balloon burst and it came falling back to Earth on a parachute. The record was still playing when it landed back on the ground.

Explaining some of the technical problems of achieving this monumental feat, engineer Kevin Carrico explained: “As you rise higher and higher into the thinning atmosphere, temperature and increasing vacuum (lack of air) can cause issues. Vinyl has a rather low melting point (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”.

He went on: “Without air, things in direct sunlight can get very hot while things in shade can get very cold. This constant expansion and contraction can physically distort a vinyl record rendering it unplayable. So our turntable platter also served as a heat-sink in order to keep the vinyl cool in direct sunlight”.

Oh you’re impressed now, aren’t you? Here’s what Jack White had to say about it all: “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”.

He went on: “Combining our creative impulses with those of discovery and science is our passion, and even on the scale that we are working with here, it was exhilarating to decide to do something that hasn’t been done before and to work towards its completion. And, it brings us great fulfilment to pay tribute to the incredible scientist and dreamer that Carl Sagan was. We hope that in meeting our goal we inspire others to dream big and start their own missions, whatever they may be”.

Have you come around to this whole thing now? Have you stopped thinking it was all a waste of time and effort? Well, good. You are now ready to watch this TWO HOUR video of the whole event: