LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — NASA said Thursday that Voyager 1 has become the first spacecraft to ever leave the solar system.

Thirty-six years after the manmade object, along with the Voyager 2, launched for its mission, NASA was finally able to celebrate the historic occurrence.

They played, of course, the theme song to “Star Trek” at a Washington news conference.

“The Voyager spacecraft has actually gotten into interstellar space. This was one of the goals set for the mission,” said Dr. Torrance Johnson, a senior research scientist for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory who was also a member of Voyager’s imaging science team.

Johnson said Voyager 1 was only guaranteed to last as far as Jupiter and Saturn.

“The (spacecraft) were built well, they survived the radiation belts of Jupiter and all the other types of hazards in space and have just kept going on,” he said.

KCAL9’s Louisa Hodge said the spacecraft only has 68 kilobytes of digital memory, but it also has a digital tape recorder, which provided scientists with the evidence they needed.

“That’s basically allowing us to record the data on the tape recorder and then play it back at very slow rates to the Earth,” said Johnson.

The new plasma data, scientists said, proves that in August of last year, the spacecraft entered a new environment with a massive increase in density of the plasma.

“Most of the people in the space, physics community regard the density increase as being a clear indication that we are in interstellar space,” said Johnson.

Johnson said the spacecraft will still maintain contact with Earth until at least 2020.


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