Apparently getting ready for the probe’s return to Earth a couple hundred years from now (yes, we know … wrong probe, but we couldn’t help it), NASA invoked the words of Star Trek as the first man-made object has entered interstellar space.
That’s what Voyager 1 did on Thursday, now 12 billion miles from the sun. It’s a trip that took just 35 years. How fast is that? Well, that’s about 39,000 miles per hour.
“Space, the final frontier,” said John Grunsfeld, NASA’s associate administrator of space missions, when he made the announcement. “These are the voyages of the starship Voyager. Its 36-year mission to explore strange new worlds. To seek out anomalous cosmic rays and new plasmas. To boldly go where no probe has gone before.”
It was no accident Grunsfeld used Star Trek. The television series that has spanned a bit longer than Voyager’s journey has influenced NASA significantly over the years.
“Those words from ‘Star Trek’ have inspired so many of us, and I think are characteristics of the excitement and the discoveries we’re going to talk about today,” he said, according to Space.com.
Voyager 1 was launched Sept. 5, 1977, to study the larger planets of the outer solar system. The probe — complete with a golden record detailing life on Earth — visited Jupiter in 1979 and Saturn in 1980. Although it’s not aimed toward any particular star, it is expected to come the closest to its first star in 40,000 years. That is, if a bored Klingon had not destroyed it in “Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.”