Voyager 40 years into its mission

Fascinating post about Voyager.

Voyager’s spindly limbed, Transit-van-sized machines have been travelling at around 37,000mph for almost 38 years. When they were launched, wooden-framed Morris 1000 Traveller cars had only recently stopped being produced by British Leyland in Oxford. The Voyagers’ on-board computers are early 1970s models that were advanced then but are puny now – an iPhone’s computer is some 200,000 times faster and has about 250,000 times more memory than Voyager’s hardware.

The secret of its durability is down to the engineers involved:

“The robustness is unique,” she says. “If you talk to the older engineers, they’ll say: ‘Well, we were told to make a four-year mission, but we realised if you just used this higher-rated component, it would last twice as long.’ So they did that. They just didn’t tell anybody. The early engineers were very conscious of trying to make this last as long as possible and, quite frankly, being not as forthcoming with information about the types of parts they were using.”

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