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Voyager 1

Voyager 1 left our planet in 1977. She is close to interstellar space and has never even heard of the internet. She’s approaching the edge of our solar system at 38,000 mph and is under the impression that the Edinburgh Trams Project is, by now, up and running.
This incredible little spaceship was built from found objects and leftover bits of 60's rockets and coated in what was, at the time, a revolutionary combination of heat-resistant alloys and sticky-back plastic. Fuelled by nuclear power and curiosity, maintained by onboard systems with all the primitive computational powers of a sixteen year old boy, she has outlasted prime ministers and presidents, survived a journey of almost 11 billion freezing miles and narrowly escaped two capture attempts by Ming the Merciless. And still she flies, silently slinging past planets and solar winds and cruising further and further and further away on an unprecedented, mind-spinning one-way trip to who knows what. 33 years and still going strong, still sending messages home. They knew how to build a spaceship in those days.

We became blasé. The first moon landing was watched by every earthling who could get to a TV set. By the third and fourth trips, we were bored and using those new-fangled remote controls to flip over to Bruce Forsyth. And by the last lunar landing, in 1972, not even the fact of the Americans taking a car up there with them could boost the ratings.

And now little Voyager 1 is about to go interstellar. That is serious space. The real deal. Aliens, I'm sure, will have the sophistication to accord this triumph their respect. They may fly alongside her for a while, escort her out of the solar system and give her a 21 laser salute as she goes.

 

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