We launched a plaque into space 45 years ago, and a replica can now be yours

Back in the early 1970s, when David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust was the hot album and The Godfather was playing for the first time in theaters, NASA launched its twin spacecraft, Pioneer 10 and 11. Among the items on board were two gold Pioneer plaques, which were designed by Frank Drake and Carl Sagan to serve as an “interstellar greeting card” for any extraterrestrial life they came across.

Now, 45 years after Pioneer 10’s launch, space-obsessed designer Duane King has taken to Kickstarter with replicas of the iconic plagues, which continue to represent the adventurous spirit of humankind at its best. In his own words, it’s “gold-anodized optimism.”

“I have been working with the original craftsman from 1972 to create a limited-edition, manually engraved exact replica of the plaque along with a laser-etched reissue to make the plaque available to everyone,” King told Digital Trends. “Through the campaign, I’m hoping to share a lifelong dream of mine with the world. There is nothing like holding in your hands an exact replica of a plaque that is floating in space — over 18 billion kilometers away from Earth.”

pioneer plaque space package open tray

King said that the replicas are equal in every way to the originals, as well as the versions hanging a bit closer to home in the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. The accuracy doesn’t end at the plaque, either. The original packaging has been just as carefully reproduced, from the paper engineering through to the foil-stamping.

A limited run of 200 manually-engraved replicas, priced at $399 each, have already sold out. However, a less-expensive laser-engraved edition, priced $99, is still available.

There have, it should be noted, been past examples of space-themed Kickstarter replicas that wound up disappointing customers. King is confident he can deliver.

“As for assurances, I can only say that I have a long history of successfully launching projects of all types,” he said. “I have little fear of fulfilling expectations. I have been running design studios and agencies for over 20 years. My experience ranges from launching Herman Miller’s first websites to concepting the first-ever tin video game package for id Software to introducing parallax to the web with Nike Better World. Turning dreams into reality is normal for me. And working on what is hard is what I do!”