In Star Trek: the Motion Picture (1979), a Voyager probe is returned to us by alien others as the heart of a vast living machine. From its scarred and patinated nameplate, they have interpreted the artifact’s name as “V’ger,” which they found and retooled a mere couple of hundred years after the Voyagers’ late twentieth-century launch. “V’ger” was supposed to be Voyager 6, one in a lengthy line of missions to the stars; in reality, the program ended in 1977 after only two probes were launched. This prompts a question: what story will future xenoarchaeologists glean from our spacefaring artifacts? In the space age, we thought them the foundation stones of our future spacefaring civilization; increasingly, they seem like the moai of Easter Island—votive offerings, erected in desperate hope on the only shores we will ever know.
Friday, February 8, 2013
Voyager and the End of the Space Age
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