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Wednesday 7 December 2016

Singer Jack White reaches new heights playing vinyl record 17 miles up

Published 01/08/2016 | 15:01

Singer Jack White used a 'space-proof' turntable to play a vinyl record in the stratosphere
Singer Jack White used a 'space-proof' turntable to play a vinyl record in the stratosphere

The White Stripes singer Jack White has made history by playing a vinyl record in the Earth's stratosphere for the first time.

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Using a "space-proof" turntable and a gold-plated disc, White and his label Third Man Records were able to play a record featuring Stephen Hawking and Carl Sagan 28,000 metres (17.4 miles) above Earth.

A special space mission took place on July 2, with the record playing for about 80 minutes as the craft ascended into near-space until t he high-altitude balloon burst and the craft fell back down towards Marsing in Idaho.

The turntable played A Glorious Dawn, a creation by electronic artist John Boswell sampling clips from astronomer Sagan's TV documentary series Cosmos and scientist Hawking's documentary Universe.

Revealing the mission's success on Saturday, Third Man Records founder White said: "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 added: "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."

The record had to be plated in gold to survive the mission, ensuring the grooves kept their shape as the vinyl faced a thinning atmosphere, changing temperatures and an increasing vacuum.

The Icarus Craft was designed and engineered by Dr Kevin Carrico, whose father Dr John Carrico worked on Nasa's Mars-Viking missions.

Kevin Carrico said: "Vinyl has a rather low melting point (71C/160F) 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."

"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."

Fans were able to watch the mission in a two-hour video released on Saturday.

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