OF MOON LANDINGS AND ART
The commercial lunar landings by Astrobotic's Peregrine and Intuitive Machines' Nova-C landers in 2021 will be the first commercial landings in history.
The missions include, alongside other payloads, time capsules carrying art, books, music, poetry, stories, screenplays, and more - all part of The Lunar Codex project - to be placed in perpetuity on the surface of the Moon.
Previous to these historic landings, there have been a number of landings on the Moon.
In 1959, the Soviet Union achieved the first landing on the Moon with the Luna 2 spacecraft, followed in 1962 by the United States with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) spacecraft Ranger 4. These were hard landings; braking retrorockets later allowed soft landings; intact landers could perform practical operations on the lunar surface, such as surveys, rock and soil sampling, rover deployment and, ultimately, returns to Earth.
Other nations have achieved Moon landings, including Japan with its lunar orbiter Hiten, the European Space Agency (ESA) with SMART-1, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) with its Moon Impact Probe and Chandrarayaan spacecraft, and the Israeli private space agency SPACEIL with Beresheet.
Apollo and Chang'e Programs
NASAs Apollo 11 was the first crewed mission to land on the Moon, in 1969. There were six crewed U.S. landings between 1969 and 1972, and several uncrewed landings.
The most significant recent national entry is by China, with its Chang'e series of orbiters and landers, whose missions culminated in 2019 with Chang'e 4 making the first landing on the far side of the Moon.
Arts on the Moon
Moon missions have always been primarily in the service of government and scientific goals. In terms of arts and literature on the Moon, the Apollo missions were the most significant.
In 1969, Apollo 12 landed what is considered the first art object on the Moon. The "Moon Museum" consists of six artworks - by Robert Rauschenberg, David Novros, John Chamberlain, Claes Oldenburg, Forrest Myers and Andy Warhol - etched on a 3/4" x 1/2" ceramic wafer, smuggled to the Moon on a leg of the lunar module Intrepid.
In 1971, the Apollo 15 crew placed "Fallen Astronaut" on the lunar surface. A 3.5" aluminum sculpture by Paul Van Hoeydonck, it depicts a stylized astronaut, commemorating the astronauts and cosmonauts who previously died in the advancement of space exploration.
The Lunar Codex
The Lunar Codex is the first significant placement of art on the Moon in 50 years. It is a unified, documented collection of art and more, placed on the lunar surface through a series of landings by NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) partners under its Artemis program. While focused on art, the Lunar Codex also includes a substantial collection of books, stories, poetry, essays, and more.
"The Peregrine Collection" is our payload associated with Astrobotic's Peregrine mission, landing in Lacus Mortis on the Moon.
"The Nova Collection" is our payload associated with the Intuitive Machines Nova-C mission, landing in Vallis Schrasöteri, in the area of Oceanus Procellarum on the Moon.
The Lunar Codex is the most expansive, international, and diverse collection of contemporary art launched to the Moon. Significantly, it is the first project to launch the works of women artists to the lunar surface.
The Codex represent artwork from the U.S., Canada, Latin America, Europe, the U.K., Australia, the Middle East, India, Southeast Asia, and more - firsts on the Moon for many of these countries.
As Dr. Samuel Peralta, payload coordinator and curator, notes: "Our hope is that future travelers who find these time capsules will 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.”