Art We Launched Into Space | Summary and Q&A

July 11, 2019
The Art Assignment
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Art We Launched Into Space


Artists have been creating and sending art into space since the 1960s, including drawings, sculptures, and even music recordings, showcasing the human need for art and exploration.

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Key Insights

  • 🛰️ The first human-made artwork in space was by cosmonaut Alexei Leonov in 1965, marking the beginning of art in space exploration.
  • 🛰️ NASA established an art program in 1962 to document space activities and capture the emotional impact of these events through art.
  • 💐 Artists have sent various forms of artworks into space, including drawings, sculptures, music recordings, and even bonsai trees and flower bouquets.


You may know that the first human to spacewalk was cosmonaut Alexei Leonov. But did you know that he was also the first human to make art in space? In 1965, while wedged into the tight quarters of the Soviet space program’s Voskhod 2, Leonov sketched an orbital sunrise with some colored pencils he’d customized by attaching them to a box with thread... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: When was the first artwork sent into space?

The first artwork possibly sent into space was a small ceramic chip created by Andy Warhol and other artists in 1969 aboard Apollo 12, but the first confirmed artwork sent into space was Fallen Astronaut, a small aluminum sculpture by Paul van Hoeydonck in 1971 with the Apollo 15 mission.

Q: Are there any artworks on spacecraft that may be encountered by extraterrestrial beings?

Yes, the Voyager Golden Records launched in 1977 with the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft, containing sounds and images meant to communicate our world to extraterrestrial beings. These records are the farthest human-made objects from Earth.

Q: How have artists explored three-dimensional art in space?

Artists like Arthur Woods and Takuro Osaka have created sculptures and spinning tops that interact with microgravity, investigating the properties of sculpture in space and bridging the terrestrial and extraterrestrial environments.

Q: Are there any recent examples of art being sent to space?

In 2018, Tavares Strachan launched Enoch, a satellite holding a golden jar with a bust of Robert Henry Lawrence Jr., the first African American astronaut selected for a national space program. This work pays tribute to Lawrence and brings attention to his story.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Art has been present in space since cosmonaut Alexei Leonov's sketch of an orbital sunrise in 1965.

  • NASA established an art program in 1962 to document its space activities and invite artists to portray the significance and emotional impact of these events.

  • Artists have sent their works to space, including pieces on the moon, sculptures on Mars, and even art sent through balloons and rockets.

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