NASA launched two copies of the album — which contains spoken greetings in 55 languages, music by Bach and Chuck Berry, and even songs by humpback whales — into space in 1977 on the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecrafts. It did not include a record player.
Until recently, the album hasn’t been made public except to donors of a Kickstarter campaign by Ozma Records, which raised nearly $1.4 million to issue a limited number of copies on vinyl.
That campaign was so successful that the company decided to release the album to the general public, Ozma Records co-founder David Pescovitz, who co-produced the record, told The Washington Post. At the end of January 2018, the company will begin shipping a box set vinyl edition through the record distributor Light in the Attic.
For NASA, compiling a snapshot of the planet’s history on a single record was no easy task — especially given its purpose, which President Jimmy Carter outlined in a statement included on the album: a message from planet Earth.
“This is a present from a small distant world, a token of our sounds, our science, our images, our music, our thoughts, and our feelings,” Carter’s statement said. “We are attempting to survive our time so we may live into yours. We hope someday, having solved the problems we face, to join a community of galactic civilizations.”