Voyager 1 leads pack of world's most distant spacecraft


CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA's Voyager 1 has traveled farther from Earth than any other spacecraft. It's a mind-boggling 12.9 billion miles away, 40 years after its launch.

A list of the world's most distant spacecraft, according to NASA. All flew from Cape Canaveral.

1. Voyager 1 at 12.9 billion miles distant. Launched Sept. 5, 1977. Only spacecraft to reach interstellar space.

2. Pioneer 10 no longer communicating at an estimated at 11.1 billion miles distant. Launched in 1972.

3. Voyager 2 at 10.6 billion miles distant. Launched Aug. 20, 1977.

4. Pioneer 11 no longer communicating at an estimated at 8.9 billion miles distant. Launched in 1973.

5. New Horizons on post-Pluto mission at 3.6 billion miles distant. Launched in 2006.

6. Cassini orbiting Saturn at 0.89 billion miles distant. Launched in 1997.

Making of the Golden Record

Phonograph records were put aboard both Voyager spacecraft launched in 1977. The records contain sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth, and are intended for any intelligent extraterrestrial life form, or for future humans, who may find them. Those records are considered as a sort of a time capsule.

Many people were instrumental in the design, development and manufacturing of the golden record. Blank records were provided by the Pyral S.A. of Creteil, France. CBS Records contracted the JVC Cutting Center in Boulder, Colorado to cut the lacquer masters which were then sent to the James G. Lee Record Processing center in Gardena, California to cut and gold plate eight Voyager records. Gold plating took place on August 23, 1977; afterward, the records were mounted in aluminum containers and delivered to JPL. The record is constructed of gold-plated copper and is 12 inches (30 cm) in diameter. The record's cover is aluminum and electroplated upon it is an ultra-pure sample of the isotope uranium-238. Uranium-238 has a half-life of 4.468 billion years. The records also had the inscription "To the makers of music – all worlds, all times" hand-etched on its surface.