Later this year, American artist Jeff Koons will exhibit some of his latest sculptures in their most exotic location yet: the surface of the Moon. Thanks to a new collaboration, Koons will create new sculptures that will travel to the lunar surface on a robotic lunar lander made by Houston-based Intuitive Machines.
Intuitive Machines’ lander is called Nova-C, which the company developed in partnership with NASA. For the past few years, NASA has been actively working to return humans to the Moon through its Artemis program. And as part of that effort, NASA has worked with commercial companies to develop an entire fleet of vehicles — from smaller robotic landers and rovers to landers capable of carrying humans — that can land on the surface of the Moon.
In 2019, NASA awarded three private companies contracts to develop robotic lunar landers capable of demonstrating ways to land on the Moon. Intuitive Machines’ Nova-C was one of the winners, and the company has been working on launching the lander ever since. The large cylindrical Nova-C spacecraft will carry five science payloads for NASA and a few commercial payloads, all mounted on the outside of the spacecraft except for one designed to reside inside the propulsion tanks of the lander.
Koons is best known for his popular sculptures of balloon animals created in stainless steel. Now some of his new sculpts will join the payloads outside of Nova-C. Specifically, Koons’ sculptures will be encased in a transparent, heat-coated cube measuring 6 inches on all sides, according to Intuitive Machines. The tiny sculptures will be meant to be the first works of art “allowed” to reach the lunar surface, according to Pace Gallery, which represents Koons – although that title will only work if Intuitive Machines can get to the Moon fast enough. Competing space company Astrobotic, also in partnership with NASA, is set to send artwork to the Moon on its lander by Dubai-based artist Sacha Jafri. Astrobotic also intends to launch its lander later this year on United Launch Alliance’s new Vulcan rocket.
If Intuitive Machines is successful in landing Nova-C on the Moon, the sculptures will remain inside the box outside the lander “in perpetuity”. However, people on Earth should still be able to see art on the lunar surface. Intuitive Machines plans to include a camera on top of its lander that should be able to capture art in its new home. Representatives for Pace Gallery declined to provide details on how the art would look, how large it would be, or what materials it would be made from. “Details on the artwork will be announced in the coming weeks,” said Adriana Elgarresta, Pace’s public relations director. The edge.
Originally, Intuitive Machines planned to launch its lander by 2020. The company has a contract with SpaceX to launch Nova-C on a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Now, the launch is slated for later this year, according to Intuitive Machines. The company aims to land Nova-C in an area of the Moon called Oceanus Procellarum, the largest of the Moon’s mares — dark basalt plains that dot the lunar terrain.
The sculptures accompany the mission as part of Koons’ first NFT collection. Called moon phases, “the project will explore the imagination and technological innovation of the human race,” according to a press release. “Reveling in past and future human achievement, the artist was inspired by the Moon as a symbol of curiosity and determination.” Each Moon Phases NFT will have a corresponding sculpt, a group of which will be sent to the actual Moon.