It all began in the late 1960s, when "Moon Museum", a small ceramic plaque featuring the works of six major artists, such as Andy Warhol, was sent to the moon.
Today, there are now more than 20 works of art sent beyond the Earth's orbit, whether in the so-called "near" space, in the "far" space, on the moon or on Mars. While first advances in space engineering, which made it possible to send satellites and astronauts into orbit, were strictly reserved for the research sector, the concept of art in space emerged in the late 1960s.
Here are eight works of art that were sent into outer space:
1. Moon Museum, 1969
Considered to be the first piece of space art, Moon Museum is a small ceramic plate (1.9 x 1.3 cm) featuring the works of six notorious artists of the sixties: Robert Rauschenberg, David Novos, John Chamberlain, Claes Oldenburg, Forrest Myers and Andy Warhol.
"My idea was to bring together six great artists and create a tiny museum on the moon, " said the initiator of the project, artist Forrest Myers, who tried to validate his plan by NASA, but never received concrete support.
It was therefore unofficially that Myers set up his project, with the help of the scientist Fred Waldhauer, who agreed to engrave the sketches of the six participating artists on the plaque. An engineer working on Apollo 12 and a friend of Waldhauer ensured that the work was placed on the moon on November 12, 1969. However, there is no way to verify if the plate is still resting on the moon. John Chamberlain and Claes Oldenburg confirmed their participation in the project.
2. Fallen Astronaut, 1971
Fallen Astronaut is an 8.5 cm high aluminum sculpture of an astronaut in his spacesuit, which was deposited on the moon in 1971 by the crew of Apollo 15.
The work was done by the Belgian artist Paul Van Hoeydonck in honor of astronauts who lost their lives in the pursuit of exploration of space.
The small aluminum figure was deposited on August 2, 1971 in the plain at the foot of Mount Hadley on the moon, next to a commemorative plaque bearing the names of 8 American astronauts and 6 Soviet cosmonauts who had passed away. To avoid the use of official spaceships for commercial purposes, which was banned by NASA, the name of the artist does not appear on the work, and the artist regretted that it was not placed upright, as he wished.
3. The paintings of Ellery Kurtz, 1986
In 1986, four paintings by the artist Ellery Kurtz were sent aboard the Columbia shuttle as part of the "Get Away Special" program. The experiment, supervised by NASA, aimed to see how pigments and canvases would cope with the extreme conditions of space (gravity, temperature, etc.), thus introducing the concept of the creation of an artwork directly in space.
Curious to know if man would one day be able to take art outside the limits of the earth, Kurtz sent four of his semi-abstract compositions inspired by the walls covered with advertising posters.
"Where the man goes, art must go," he said.
4. Inter-Galactic Sculpture, 1987-92
The Israeli artist Ezra Orion pushed the concept of space art a step further, imagining a sculpture that would be created in space.
Under the supervision of Israeli Space Agency and the Israel Museum, the artist designed a luminous sculptural installation by sending laser beams to the middle of the Milky Way, called Inter-Galactic Sculpture. Described by Orion as "a super cathedral" constructed by light beams, the sculpture was the first work of deep space executed for and in space.
5. Cosmic dancer, 1993
The sculpture Cosmic Dancer, made by artist Arthur Woods, was sent aboard a Progress rocket to the Russian Mir station on May 22, 1993.
The work, a painted aluminum geometric structure measuring approximately 35 x 35 x 40 centimeters and weighing exactly one kilogram (2.2 lbs), was the first three-dimensional work designed specifically to evolve in space. The purpose of the operation was to explore the properties of a weightless sculpture and the integration of a work of art in a space program that usually included only man.
After arriving at the Mir station, the Cosmic Dancer sculpture could spin and float freely in weightlessness, free of any gravitational force that would force the artist to position it in a certain way, and could be admired from every angle.
6. Ars ad Astra, 1995
Ars ad Astra is a complete exhibition, the first held in the orbit of the earth, which took place on the Mir station in 1995. The project, carried by the OURS Foundation and the European Space Agency, started with an international competition allowing 20 artists to be selected by a jury qualified as artistic personalities and space experts.
The exhibition, organized as part of the EUROMIR 95 mission, focused on Space and Humanity. Each participating artist's mission was to create a light work devoid of any toxic product.
On board the station, the crew chose a winner among the 20 works that would remain exposed on Mir: a watercolor by the artist Elisabeth Carol Smith entitled When Dreams are Born .
7. Beagle 2, 2003
Damien Hirst was the first artist to conquer Mars, with Beagle 2, a small lander type spacecraft developed by the European Space Agency, featuring Hirst's iconic dots. Following the invitation of Professor Colin Philinger (Beagle 2 designer), the artist's color dots were used as a calibration chart aboard the spacecraft.
The mission, aimed at confirming whether Mars harbored any form of life, had failed shortly after Beagle 2's separation from the vessel to which it was attached, before entering the orbit of Mars. Since Beagle 2 could not be located, it was presumed lost until 2015 when it was found by the researchers. The detected device is the first work of art in Mars sent from Earth.
8. Space2, 2015
The French urban artist Invader was invited to create a work for the ISS (International Space Station) in 2015. The work entitled Space2 was a small mosaic measuring 15x10 cm that depicted a small red alien, a characteristic figure of the artist's graffiti, which is seen on the streets of Paris.
Aboard the European space ship ATV-5 in July 2015, the mosaic arrived at the ISS to become the astronaut mascot, floating freely in the station for months, waiting for a crew member to install it permanently.
The Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti laid the saving glue point on the Space2 mosaic .