suborbital space

On October 31, 2014, the Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo vehicle suffered a catastrophic in-flight breakup and crashed in the Mojave Desert, California. The spacecraft was performing a powered test flight from the Mojave Air and Space Port in which it was dropped from the WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft, VMS Eve. About eleven seconds later, the space plane violently broke apart. The suborbital space plane’s “feathering” re-entry system deployed too early. Intensive investigation found the proximate cause of the accident to be pilot error. As one of Virgin Galactic’s Pioneer Astronauts the artist received an email from Virgin Galactic a few moments after the crash: “…during the test, the vehicle suffered a serious anomaly resulting in the loss of the vehicle.” This serious anomaly raises fundamental questions about the relationship between man and machine, humans and technology. The co-pilot, Michael Alsbury, was killed and the pilot, Peter Siebold, was seriously injured. The history of space travel is also a history of failure and tragic accidents. “serious anomaly” is a depiction of the experience of failure which is a fundamental part of all our lives.

Inspired by Caspar David Friedrich´s iconic painting Das Eismeer (1824), widely considered as the supreme incarnation of the idea of failure, German photographer Michael Najjar, the first artist to fly into space, has reinterpreted the painting in a composition titled “serious anomaly” which puts together a selection of photographs taken by photo reporters in the Mojave Desert immediately after the crash. The painting underscores the relationship between man and nature but also that of technology and nature, as the expeditionary ship is crushed between the implacable shards of ice. The pictures from the real event are interspersed with footage the artist shot from the spaceship during previous test flights. The ship in Friedrich´s painting has been replaced by the pilot´s seat which has been found on the ground.

Full information on Michael Najjar’s “serious anomaly” and his upcoming exhibition at Galería Juan Silió in Santander, Spain, are available here.

This flight into suborbital space

This flight into suborbital space is facilitated by Richard Branson’s Virgin.
I remember my first time. Just a wide-eyed boy strolling down Broadway. What’s this? A lovely looking cafe/delicatessen/supermarket mashup. All the staff were wearing white. I thought, this shouldn’t hurt too much. They seem kind and i’m not getting any younger. Maybe i’ll take the plunge. I could hardly walk after they fisted me on the price of a single banana.