Trevor Paglen and the Nevada Museum of Art, Orbital Reflector
557 people pledged $76,053 to support this project on Kickstarter.
Who are we? Where did we come from? Where are we going?
These were the questions Trevor Paglen and the Nevada Museum of Art wanted to address with the world’s first art satellite. Visible from Earth without a telescope, the “earth work” has no commercial, military, or scientific purpose. With the help of 557 backers, Paglen sent his project into low Earth orbit on December 3 aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
Intentionally or not, Orbital Reflector also reflected the sociopolitical landscape back on Earth: Delays to the launch highlighted the unpredictability of corporate space travel, and the 2019 U.S. federal government shutdown caused further delays and made it impossible to track whether the artwork was deployed.
But that didn’t disappoint the museum or Paglen. In an open letter, Paglen noted that “if the project’s goal was to provoke a conversation about the politics of space, it has been nothing less than a stellar success … I, for one, will keep my eyes on the stars, knowing that at any moment, a new one might spring to life.”