SpaceX Is Launching a $1M Sculpture Into Orbit for Art’s Sake

Add 'patron of the arts' to Elon Musks's CV

November 20, 2017 9:00 am

In addition to helping spark UFO conversations, the satellites we see in the night sky all fulfill some sort of commercial, military, or scientific purpose.

The 100-foot-long one that artist Trevor Paglen plans to launch into low-Earth orbit next year won’t fulfill any such purpose — but it is going to look pretty frickin’ cool.

Said to be “the first satellite to exist purely as an artistic gesture,” the diamond-shaped Orbital Reflector will be delivered into orbit on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that’s scheduled to depart from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base. Once it’s up, the reflective artwork will be visible as it circles the planet every three hours … until it burns up upon re-entry after about two months.

So, uh, why exactly do we need an inflatable space sculpture? The Orbital Reflector team says:

“Art gives us a reason — gives us permission — to look at something deeply. Orbital Reflector encourages all of us to look up at the night sky with a renewed sense of wonder, to consider our place in the universe, and to re-imagine how we live together on this planet.”

Made from a mylar-like substance, the Orbital Reflector is going to cost about $1.3 million, a bill that Reno’s Nevada Museum of Art and a Kickstarter campaign are helping Paglen to pay off.

“We thought it was a risky and super-exciting proposition,” museum executive director David Walker told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “We love artists who are stretching the boundaries, changing the game, engaging the larger public and operating outside the institutional gallery walls of museums.”

To help make sure the Orbital Reflector, ahem, gets off the ground, here’s where to donate and for mone information about Paglen and the project, here’s the Nevada Museum of Art’s video:

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.