When we say ‘first vinyl record’, we’re talking about the first record to be played in space. Not the first record ever made, which was then played in space. It’s important to keep these things clear. Not that it matters now that we’ve got hipsters in space. Or audiophiles in the atmosphere. Whichever sounds better to you.
Seriously though, you’re about to watch a vinyl record being played in space. If you call 94,413 feet (about 28km) straight up ‘space’. The brainchild of Jack White’s Third Man Records label and executed with the help of Students and Teachers in Near Space, this little feat was achieved using a little something called the ICARUS CRAFT.
ICARUS is the name given to the custom turntable used to keep the record playing during the ascent, a climb that was achieved by using a weather balloon. ICARUS had to be weatherproofed and the turntable modified in order to ensure that it would keep playing as it reached the stratosphere. The vinyl was treated with gold plate to ensure that direct sunlight wouldn’t melt and distort the record on the way up. The turntable itself also acted as a heat-sink, keeping the record cool during ascent.
As for the tune on offer? A Glorious Dawn, a track featuring Carl Sagan talking about humanity and space and all sorts of other awesome stuff.
Got about two hours on your hands? Then you can watch the whole two-hour space-vinyl mission from start to finish. Want to skip right to the top? Hop the video over the the 1:22:00 mark to jump in just before the ICARUS reaches its peak height with the record still playing. Just before the balloon pops and ICARUS returns to Earth.