F A Q
SOME QUESTIONS, SOME ANSWERS
I dreamed of going to the Moon and one day it was possible. I'm sharing that dream with some of the artists, authors, musicians, and filmmakers whose work I love.
We are the Artists on the Moon, and The Lunar Codex is the collection of works in our lunar time capsules.
Q. Why are you doing The Lunar Codex?
The Lunar Codex started as a project to spread hope during a dark time - the years of the Covid-19 pandemic on Earth. The Codex instills the Moon with some of the heart of humanity, our art, so that when we look to the sky, the Moon is a tangible symbol of hope, of what is possible when you believe. The Codex is also a message-in-a-bottle to the future, so that travelers who find these time capsules might discover some of the richness of our world today. It speaks to the idea that, despite wars and pandemics and climate upheaval, humankind found time to dream, time to create art.
Q. How did the The Lunar Codex come about?
A. I was one of 125 authors on the Writers on the Moon (WOTM) project, assembling a lunar time capsule of contemporary writing. I managed to share my space allotted with over 400 authors in my manifest - and a few artists! That inspired me to create Artists on the Moon, to broaden the reach - by sourcing more space on other spacecraft. Lander by lander, launch by launch, I managed to find enough secondary payload space to bring my manifests to over 1500, then 3000, and now 5000 creative artists (plus one A.I.) - The Lunar Codex.
Q. Why is there a lot of your own and your family's writing, music, and art in The Lunar Codex?
A. Because that's how this all started, with sending my own creative works going to the Moon.
Q. Do artists pay to be included in The Lunar Codex?
A. Not at all. Artists, authors, musicians, filmmakers, or the copyright owners of the catalogues, collections and anthologies documented have all given permission for inclusion - but I bear the cost of everything. That includes curation and site maintenance, conversion of works into digital or analog archival format, and for primary or secondary payload space on the lunar landers, which includes launch costs. Except for myself, no creative artists - human or A.I. - have paid anything for inclusion.
Q. Is The Lunar Codex open for submission?
A. Not really. The Codex reflects personally-owned exhibit catalogs, monographs, subscriptions, collections, publications, preprints, and predilections. I'd include much more, but behind the scenes it reflects the efforts of just one person. I'm not Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk - I don't have the time or resources.
Q. I have art or books being sent to the Moon separately. Can it be included in The Lunar Codex?
A. Possibly. For example, the Writers on the Moon files are now included in the Lunar Codex as a back-up. There are an increasing number of opportunities to place lunar payload. If one of yours is arts, music, film, or literature-related, drop me a line on the C&C page! I make no promises, though - everything in the Codex is pre-curated by gallerists, curators, collectors, publishers, and editors.
Q. Why have I read about different galleries and collections in The Lunar Codex?
A. The Lunar Codex covers everything. But the Codex evolved organically, so you will see references which correspond to various stages in its evolution:
- "Manifest 9" are works I curated as part of WOTM, aimed for Peregrine Mission 1 (PM1).
- "The Peregrine Collection" (aka "Annex 9") includes the above, and adds the works around 800 artists and about 100 authors on a different memory card from WOTM, but also onboard PM1.
- "The Nova Collection" refers to a separate group of primarily artworks and poetry in a time capsule associated with Intuitive Machines' Nova-C Mission 1 (IM1).
- "The Polaris Collection" is a third group of creative works associated with a NASA CLPS partner to be announced, for which we have reserved and confirmed payload space. At the moment I'm 90% sure it's with Astrobotic's Griffin mission, which will also carry NASA's VIPER lunar rover.
Q. When are the launches?
A. The latest word is that the PM1 launch will proceed in early 2022. Intuitive Machines Mission 1 (IM1) is scheduled for the first quarter of 2022. Our third launch is scheduled for sometime in 2023. Schedule changes in the space industry are not uncommon - space is hard.
Q. How long does it take to get to the Moon?
A. About 3 days, traveling roughly 240,000 miles, or 386,400 kilometers, which is the distance from the Earth to the Moon. It could take longer, depending on circumstances.
Q. Will we be able to watch the launches and landings?
A. Yes, much like the Perseverance rover landing on Mars, the missions will be streamed. As a payload provider, we will also have first access to photographs and videos of each mission.
Q. Aren't you contributing to space junk?
A. This isn't about old satellites that don't work anymore. This is a time capsule project, meant for future generations to discover a bit about our time on Earth. It has historical and cultural value, like an unearthed time capsule from 1945. It was conceived during the global Covid-19 pandemic over 2020-21, to try to kindle hope during an uncertain time for creative artists.
Q. Won't the time capsules float away into space?
A. The Moon does have gravity, just 1/6th that of Earth. A 120-lb kettle-ball on Earth would still feel like 20-lbs on the Moon.
Q. How will aliens be able to read the files?
A. The time capsule is meant to be found by future humans, as they're the most likely to be on the Moon. Whoever finds them - alien or human - will likely be smart enough to figure them out, just as we can still decipher Babylonian even when the writing has been eroded down to the tablet surface: "Restoration of Fragmentary Babylonian Texts Using Recurrent Neural Networks."
Q. Why don't you list or show every artwork, story or poem represented in the Codex, only the creator names?
A. It's only one human at the computer here. With thousands of creatives, and several pieces by each, this is a huge task! Eventually we will link back to the original terrestrial publication so you can see what individual works are included. For now, it suffices to list the creators and the original source. I do have a couple of Galleries that showcases selected pieces.
Q. Are you associated with NASA?
A. Not us directly, no. The lunar landers are privately-owned by NASA partners - Astrobotic and Intuitive Machines - under NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program. We are clients of third-party commercial service providers to these NASA partners.
Q. What happens if the launch is cancelled?
A. NASA has provided about $70-100M in contracts to each CLPS partner for each mission. Each mission is critical for the Artemis program and the goal of establishing a base on the Moon. If at all humanly possible, a launch will not be cancelled, only delayed. It may be a long delay - for example, Astrobotic's launch was originally scheduled for mid-2020, and it is now scheduled for the end of 2021.
Q. What happens if your partners don't get the time capsule on the lander in time for the launch?
A. Once I send my files to my partners, and they confirm receiving them, I have no control over what happens next - I put my trust in them. Deadlines are tight in the space industry, and if they miss onboarding, there's nothing I can do about it. But I will try to put those missed files on my next mission, with new partners.
Q. What happens if the lander crashes on the Moon or doesn't reach the Moon, or if the rocket explodes?
A. Alas, success in the space industry is not easy. If anything like this happens, I may be out my entire investment in this project. But all may not be lost - the works on the time capsule become stardust.
Q. Does the Codex represent the first art on the Moon?
A. "The Moon Museum" (Apollo 12) was a ceramic wafer with artwork by Robert Rauschenberg, David Novros, Claes Oldenburg, John Chamberlain, Forrest Myers and Andy Warhol, smuggled on a lander leg.
"Fallen Astronaut" (Apollo 15) was a 3.5" aluminum statue of an astronaut by Paul Van Hoeydonck, made to honor those who had died to advance space exploration.
In terms of books, SpaceIL's Beresheet lander crashed on the Moon in 2019 with Arch Mission Foundation's "Lunar Library" on board. It included texts for human history and civilization, and Project Gutenberg books.
The Lunar Codex is the first project to put the works of women artists on the Moon. It represents the first figurative realist art on the lunar surface. And it is the most expansive and diverse collections of contemporary art launched to the Moon, in terms of gender, styles, and nationalities.
Q. Is there a personal significance to "The Peregrine Collection" name?
A. "Peregrine" was my name on early email addresses and bulletin boards; I feel it kismet that it's also the name of Astrobotic's first lander.
Q. Is there a personal significance to "The Nova Collection" name?
A. Other than being the name of Intuitive Machine's first lander, it was the name of one of my favorite documentary series focusing on science - and helped lead me on my road to a Ph.D. in physics.
Q. Is there a personal significance to "The Polaris Collection" name?
A. Other than beiang the name of Astrobotic's first prototype rover, it also suggests the lunar south pole landing area of our third time capsule.
Q. I'm an artist, author, or other creative listed in the Lunar Codex - how can I identify as being part of this project?
A. You can identify as being listed on The Lunar Codex or in the collection you're included in. Listed creatives may use the AOTM logo on their websites as part of a digital resume, with a link to this website (do not leave out the trademark symbol!) but not on any print or physical media (not, for example, for mugs, T-shirts, stickers, and so on) or any type of other marketing material, online or otherwise. You're not required to use the logo; you can simply refer to this website, which documents the complete list of creative artists whose works are represented in the time capsules. If you're not listed in The Lunar Codex, you may not use the AOTM logo.
Q. Will you have AOTM or Codex T-shirts? Mugs? Mousepads?
A. Definitely maybe! And likely only on a successful landing. Right now curating and maintenance of the Codex is taking most of my time. If you're looking for Astrobotic or Intuitive Machines patches or related merchandise, those will be available from their websites. I'm going to get them there myself! Please do not use any of their logos, or material owned by others, in any merchandise for sale. It's not a good look, and can get you a terse letter from a lawyer. With official letterhead.
Q. Any other plans or projects?
A. The Codex has payload confirmed for the PM1 and IM1 lunar missions in 2021-2022, and has just reserved payload space for a mission in 2022-2023. There is some probability we will be able to commission payload for other missions - we shall see. In any case, we are continuing to participate in the new commercial age of space that NASA's CLPS programs are opening. We are all about possibilities.