After a successful Kickstarter campaign last year raised $76,000 for the launch of the Orbital Reflector “art satellite,” the installation has been lost in space. The project arose from a collaboration between American artist Trevor Paglen and the Nevada Museum of Art. Once the diamond-shaped balloon was fully deployed, it was supposed to circle the Earth for two months, reflecting sunlight back to the ground at night. Once the small “CubeSat” carrying the balloon reached space, it was to separate from the rocket, establish a unique orbit, and inflate the balloon using a compressed nitrogen cartridge. Orbital Reflector was supposed to have been the first piece of public art visible from space, with a truly global reach (edging out Pepsi’s attempts at low Earth orbit advertising). The 100-foot-long reflective polyethylene balloon was launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket alongside 63 other satellites on December 3 of last year, but was unable to deploy as scheduled thanks to the ongoing government shutdown. Each satellite requires a unique ID number so that it can be tracked at ground level; unfortunately, the Combined Space Operations Center, a division of the Air Force that allocates those identifiers, was unable to perform this task during the government shutdown. The Nevada Museum of Art lost contact with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), who had requested the team wait for their go-ahead before expanding the balloon, during that time as well. Now it seems that the team has thrown in the towel. According to a letter dated May 1 posted on the Orbital Reflector website, communication with the satellite has been lost. “Orbital Reflector successfully separated from the rocket,” reads the final update, “and was deployed within a cluster of similarly sized spacecraft. To avoid collision, Orbital Reflector was set to inflate once it drifted away from potential impacts, and after it had received final clearance and approval from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The satellite’s electronics and hardware were designed to function during this waiting period but were not hardened for long-term functionality in space. From the start, the satellite was designed to be as light and functional as possible to allow for eventual disintegration. “By the time the government was re-opened and the Air Force renewed its attempts to sort out the cloud of satellites, communications from spacecraft had gone silent. At this point, it became clear that tracking Orbital Reflector, either before or after its inflation in space, would no longer be a viable outcome.” With the satellite dead in the water, the project’s Kickstarter backers at least received the pins, patches, and postcards they had pledged for.
Posts tagged with "Nevada Museum of Art":
After a successful Kickstarter campaign raised over $76,000 to launch the world’s first “space sculpture” into orbit, plans to deploy the 100-foot-long reflective balloon have been put on hold thanks to the record-breaking U.S. government shutdown. Orbital Reflector was conceived by American artist Trevor Paglen through a partnership with the Nevada Museum of Art. The ambitious satellite-based installation was supposed to deploy its angular, self-inflating payload once in orbit and create a sky-high “mirror” that would circle the globe for two months. The diamond-shaped, polyethylene balloon is coated in a titanium dioxide-finish that would have reflected sunlight back down to the Earth at night—a gesture the Nevada Museum of Art hoped would inspire in viewers all over the world “a renewed sense of wonder.” The satellite carrying Orbital Reflector successfully made it into space on a December 3, 2018, launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with 63 other satellites, most of them CubeSats. A CubeSat is sized in standard U units; one “U” is equal to 4-inches-by-4-inches-by-4-inches; the satellite carrying Orbital Reflector is only 3U, about the size of a brick. Because of the government shutdown, only half of the satellites from that December launch have been able to detach from the rocket and move into independent orbits, as every satellite requires a unique ID number so that it can be tracked. According to an update posted on the project’s Kickstarter page on January 22:
A division of the United States Air Force known as CSpOC (Combined Space Operations Center) is faced with the task of properly identifying each of those satellites so that they can be tracked as they orbit the earth. Six weeks post-launch, that task is still not complete; only half of the satellites from the launch have been properly identified. Many of the satellites that launched together remain in a cluster and until they separate it is difficult to correctly identify each one. Prior to the holidays, we had been working very closely with the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) and other relevant space-related authorities to deploy the balloon at the right time for a safe trajectory. The FCC had asked us to wait for their go-ahead before we deploy the balloon. Since the government shutdown began, communication with the FCC has been suspended, as they are not operational at this time.When the tracking information for Orbital Reflector becomes available, terrestrial art patrons can track the installation via the Star Walk 2 app. The sky-high conceptual piece was supposed to orbit the Earth for two months, completing a rotation around the planet every 94 minutes. It remains to be seen whether the time spent in limbo will eat into that period, or if the satellite will be able to deploy before the orbit of the SpaceX rocket it’s attached to begins to decay.
Edward Burtynsky: Oil Nevada Museum of Art, Feature Gallery South 160 West Liberty Street, Reno, NV Through September 23 One of the most important topics of our time, oil and its industry serve as the departure point for the work of one of the most admired photographers working today. From 1997 through 2009, Edward Burtynsky traveled the world chronicling oil, its production, distribution, and use. Through 50 large-scale photographs, Burtynsky illustrates stories about this vital natural resource, the landscapes altered by its extraction, and the sprawl caused by the development of infrastructure needed to transport it. Behind the awe-inspiring photography is an epic tale about the lifeblood of mankind's existence in the 21st century. Curated by the Center for Art + Environment, Oil forces the viewer to contend with the scale and implications of humanity’s addiction to energy.