Japanese Artist Launches Flowers and Bonsai Plant into Space [PHOTOS]

Outer space is full of stellar and planetary beauty, but not very much man-made art. Now, 38-year-old Japanese artist Azuma Makoto has mixed art and space exploration in a special project entitled Exobiotanica. The mission involved launching two botanical objects into space: a Japanese white pine bonsai called “Shiki 1” and an untitled bouquet arrangement of orchids, lilies, irises, hydrangeas and other flowers.

Makoto wanted to use brightly colored flowers to contrast with the darkness of space. In the New York Times T Magazine, Makoto says

Flowers aren’t just beautiful to show on tables…I wanted to see the movement and beauty of plants and flowers suspended in space.

Makoto and his 10-person crew teamed up with JP Aerospace, a volunteer organization based in Sacramento that builds vessels to send into orbit. Using styrofoam and light metal frames, JP Aerospace constructed two devices from which the bonsai and flowers were suspended. There were two tracking systems on each device to locate them once they fell back to earth. Six GoPro cameras were tied in a ball to capture images of the launches from 360 degrees. Owner and founder of JP Aerospace John Powell told the magazine that

The best thing about this project is that space is so foreign to most of us…so seeing a familiar object like a bouquet of flowers flying above Earth domesticates space, and the idea of traveling into it.

The two botanical pieces were launched into the stratosphere at 2 a.m. on Tuesday, July 15, in Black Rock Desert outside Gerlach, Nevada.

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