NASA's twin Voyager spacecraft
This artist's concept shows NASA's twin Voyager spacecraft exploring a turbulent region of space known as the heliosheath, the outer shell of the bubble of charged particles around the sun in this handout provided by NASA. Reuters/NASA/JPL-Caltech

The music of the late musician, singer and songwriter Chuck Berry will soon travel through interstellar space. The NASA spacecrafts called Voyagers were conceived to carry golden records with songs that include Berry’s hit, “Johnny B. Goode.”

NASA first introduced the concept for the twin Voyager spacecrafts in 1977. These were meant to be probes. Each spacecraft would carry a golden record containing sights, sounds and greetings from Earth.

The Long Plays (LPs) would be sent to interstellar space in the eventuality that extraterrestrials may find them. The late cosmologist and author Carl Sagan led a team who designed and decided the contents of the golden record.

First travel through interstellar space

Made of gold-plated copper, each record had greetings in over 50 languages, 117 images, and a variety of natural sounds made by storms, animals and volcanoes. It also had a chart explaining the diagrams on its cover: complete instructions to aliens on what the record is, how to play it, and its origin.

In 2013, when Voyager 1 became the first such probe to leave the solar system and enter interstellar space, replicas of the record were made. A Kickstarter campaign was started to recreate the LP and make it available to the public.

The replica was unveiled at a news conference at NASA Headquarters in Washington by Suzanne Dodd, Voyager project manager. The copies, of which only ten were made, were heavyweight and translucent. Voyager II is expected to follow in the path of its predecessor in the next ten years or so.

Sagan had chaired a committee to select 90 minutes of music from all over the world, and from different eras. The LP will include jazz staples by Louis Armstrong and classic tunes by Bach and Beethoven. In 1986, Sagan wrote to Berry during the singer’s 60th birthday, telling him that “Johnny B. Goode” would be in the record as well, Space reported. Sagan proudly predicted that the Voyager-ferried LPs and their contents would last for a billion years or more.

Why Chuck Berry's music matters

The American singer passed away on March 18 at his residence outside St Louis, Missouri. Widely considered as a rock and roll legend, Berry refined and developed rhythm and blues.

He was among the first musicians inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Upon his death, many tributes were published, but probably the greatest tribute of all is that his song is the only rock and roll tune included in the Voyager spacecraft’s golden LP.