Making a Mark: Surprising Things We’ve Launched Into Space

Photo Courtesy: Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

Even now, space remains a vast, largely unexplored frontier. Something about its vastness not only encourages us to voyage deeper into our solar system, but it also inspires this very human need to be known — to be heard, or seen. Maybe not as individuals, but as a whole.

Earlier this year, Elon Musk’s SpaceX launched some peculiar items into orbit. Most famously, Musk’s first rocket carried with it a Tesla Roadster and a mannequin "driver" dubbed Starman — which have recently passed beyond the outer bounds of Mars — and, less famously, about 36,000 worms, which have similar muscle structures to our own. One of those things carries with it a certain amount of ego, while the other has (obvious) ties to scientific research. Both seemed important enough to send into orbit.

Long before SpaceX’s endeavors, some pretty remarkable, remarkably ordinary and remarkably bizarre items were sent or transmitted into space. The recordings, artifacts, pop culture totems and art objects that have risen above the Kármán line all hold cultural significance but, at the same time, represent very different ways to leave one’s mark.