Jack White’s Third Man Records Launches the Icarus Craft Turntable to Play Carl Sagan Vinyl in ‘Near Space’
As teased last month, Jack White's Third Man Records did something truly special for their seventh birthday. The label launched what was dubbed The Icarus Craft and watched it climb upward where it was able to play Carl Sagan's "A Glorious Dawn," making it the first vinyl record played in "near space."
The custom-made "space-proof" turntable was attached to a high-altitude balloon and launched outside of Marsing, Idaho. The Icarus Craft was designed and engineered by Kevin Carrico with the assistance of consultants, students and teachers. Sagan's "A Glorious Dawn" was the label's three millionth record pressed.
The craft reached a peak altitude of 94,413 feet at 1:21:20 flight time when the balloon burst and the descent of the craft began. The height was deemed "near space," which is a common destination for many NASA missions. During the entire time of ascension the Icarus turntable played Sagan's record on repeat, using a sturdy phono cartridge and stylus as well as an onboard flight computer programmed with a few different actions to keep the record playing while it was safe to do so. Once the return to Earth began, 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 the needle and the record itself. Once the Icarus reached the ground, the record was still spinning, completely unaffected by the journey.
White said of the Icarus Craft launch, "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. 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 fulfillment 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."
Watch a recap of the Icarus Craft journey above or see more of the full mission in the player below.
Watch Third Man Records' Icarus Craft's Space Mission