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Katie Paterson creates first artwork for the International Space Station
July 29, 2014

Katie Paterson creates first artwork for the International Space Station


On July 29 the unmanned cargo resupply spacecraft Georges Lemaître ATV will launch from the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana, on a mission to supply the International Space Station with propellant, water, air and dry cargo. Part of this dry cargo will be a hand-sized re-formed meteorite by Katie Paterson, which will become the first artwork aboard the International Space Station. 


Paterson's Campo del Cielo, Field of the Sky (2012) took as its source a 242-pound meteorite found in the Formosa province of Argentina, where it landed approximately 5,600 years ago after traveling for four and a half billion years. Paterson melted the meteorite into molten form and recast it in its original form. "The iron, small rocks, metal and dust inside becomes reformed," Paterson explains, "and the layers of its cosmic lifespan — the warping of space and time, the billions of years of pressure and change, formation and erosion — become collapsed, transformed and renewed." Campo del Cielo was commissioned by the London borough of Kensington and Chelsea for the Exhibition Road Show and was displayed on a public thoroughfare during the 2012 London Olympics. The meteorite leaving for the International Space Station, also originally from Formosa, was created using the same process of re-formation.


Crucial to the conception of this body of work was that a re-formed meteorite eventually return to space, and with the cooperation of the European Space Agency the project will now be completed. After a year of testing (exhaustively detailed on the ESA's blog) Paterson’s meteorite has been sealed inside the Georges Lemaître. The launch can be streamed live at 23:44 GMT on July 29. "By sending it 'back to space'," says Paterson, "I hope to fire the imagination of students, youth — anyone really — and foster a discussion on our relation with the wider universe."