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How The Suicide Squad’s Not-So-Golden Record Left A Lasting Legacy At Pasadena's Jet Propulsion Laboratory

In this photo illustration, a pair of golden records are floating over and to the left of a what appears to be a satellite, which is at the bottom right.
This image highlights the special cargo onboard NASA's Voyager spacecraft: the Golden Record. Each of the two Voyager spacecraft launched in 1977 carry a 12-inch gold-plated phonograph record with images and sounds from Earth. An artist's rendering of the Voyager spacecraft is shown at bottom right.
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In season one’s final episode of LA Made: Blood Sweat & Rockets, our host M.G. Lord reflects on the legacy of the scientists whose curiosity and courage launched the United States into outer space.

What to expect in this episode

Blood, Sweat & Rockets: The Legacy of Frank Malina

Frank Malina, JPL founder and original Suicide Squad member, believes the purpose of rocket science is to reach the stars. But early aerospace answers to the U.S. military, and Malina’s pure-science idealism is often at odds with the powers that be.

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In this historic black-and-white photo, a group of five men are casually sitting or laying in a loose circle on what looks like sand. Three of them are looking at the camera.
The pioneering rocket scientists at JPL were dubbed the "Suicide Squad."

The maverick Suicide Squad members have big dreams from the jump. And while the Squad’s historical record may not be picture-perfect, their vision breaks boundaries that leads to major aerospace accomplishments, like the moon landing and the Voyager space probe.

Voyager’s 45th anniversary of its journey through interstellar space is testament to the Suicide Squad’s legacy and is one of humanity’s most noble achievements: using advanced technology to expand our understanding of the universe.

Go Voyager, go

The Voyagers I and II are the farthest human-made objects to exist away from Earth that we're still in touch with. On their journey, the probes each carry a Golden Record. This 12-inch gold-plated copper disk is an audio/visual document of what our planet deems to be its most remarkable traits and important creative works. As JPL says: "containing sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth."

Meanwhile, here on Earth — in this world of seemingly constant political upheaval and cultural conflict — tuning into the pure tones of human curiosity can be music to our ears ... if we're listening.

The future record

JPL plays a vital role in space exploration now more than ever. M.G. Lord talks with the women in JPL leadership and they discuss breaking new boundaries in today’s space frontier.

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That sounds great! How do I find the podcast?

It's available now from LAist Studios. Check it out wherever you get your podcasts, or you can click on the player above.

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