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Watch: Jack White’s Icarus takes vinyl to new heights, plays first record in space

The vinyl revolution has officially reached the stratosphere, as Jack White’s Third Man Records has now officially played a record in space for the first time.

The effort, which was previously hinted at by White’s label earlier this month, used a weather balloon and a specially designed record player payload called Icarus, reaching over 94 thousand feet above Earth’s surface. The gold-plated LP played at that altitude was a mix of A Glorious Dawn by composer John Boswell, and included audio of Carl Sagan talking about the wonders of the universe.

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The Icarus payload took more than three years to design, and Third Man partnered with engineer Kevin Carrico to help with the project. They knew that as the record player rose high into Earth’s atmosphere, the temperature and lack of oxygen in the air could cause big engineering problems for vinyl playback, most notably constant shrinking and expansion of the playback surface. In fact, the record wasn’t coated in gold for the material’s good looks — it was to make sure that the vinyl held its shape during the physically taxing journey to the stars.

For White, the project was less of a promotional effort than a personal dream come true, one he hopes will inspire fans and dreamers everywhere.

“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,” said the rock musician of the Icarus effort, “We hope that in meeting our goal, we inspire others to dream big and start their own missions, whatever they may be.”

In a world filled with wealthy musicians who spend their money on things like gold chains, expensive cars, and vacation homes, White’s youthful sense of adventure remains a testament to his extremely creative persona.

The company has released a complete two-hour video of the launch, with cameras on board the craft capturing every moment, from takeoff to parachute-assisted landing.

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Entitled This Record Belongs To ________, the album features kid-friendly tracks from Nina Simone, Jerry Garcia, Harry Nilsson, Van Dyke Parks, Donovan, Carole King, Kermit the Frog and others.

"What if your favorite children’s book were not only a timeless story but came with a soundtrack of tunes that kids and grown-ups alike would love?" reads the press release. The record includes an "upbeat side" to help your kids jam out, and a mellow side for when they're ready (or you're ready for them) to crash.
The compilation was inspired by the Little Golden Books Series and Sesame Street's In Harmony albums, according to Third Man. Also featured is an original, full-color storybook illustrated by Jess Rotter, which tells the tale of "five forest pals" who discover a mysterious round object which turns out to be a vinyl record.
The accompanying turntable is a portable, three-speed, record player in the classic suitcase style from Jensen, with an automatic tone arm to boot. The includes USB port allows users to convert vinyl records to the digital realm, too.
The bundle, which will be available on November 6 via the Third Man store online and at Third Man Records' brick-and-mortar store in Nashville, TN, costs $95.
In addition to the kids vinyl package, Third Man has also announced a set of pocket T-shirts designed by White's tour manager David Swanson. Swan had difficulty convincing White and his team that the retro Ts were a good idea. "Jack and his team initially balked," said the press release. "Never would a record label of such esteem with such a taste for whimsy stoop to printing such a utilitarian item!"
The label came around, though, and will release white, grey and black Ts featuring the Third Man logo. The pocket T-shirts will be available starting September 12 online and at Third Man Records in Nashville, TN.

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