Following the lead of many contemporary artists, ThankYouX, also known as Ryan Wilson, has accomplished a unique milestone by sending his painting 'Urge for Perfection' into space via a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The voyage, which took place on May 21, saw the painting spend approximately 15 hours in zero gravity aboard the crewed mission before docking at the International Space Station (ISS).
The crewed mission was chartered by Axiom Space, a private spaceflight company that has a history of bringing NFTs into space. This groundbreaking initiative celebrates the intersection of art and technology and the potential and innovation that the two fields offer. Notably, it also marks ThankYouX's maiden art move beyond the confines of traditional mediums and galleries.
To commemorate the occasion, ThankYouX released an open edition NFT entitled ‘ax 2’ to allow art collectors and crypto enthusiasts to own a piece of the project. The sale is currently live on the Axiom Space NFT platform and costs 0.025 ETH. Sales will last until May 30.
The artist has also announced that the painting will be auctioned off upon its reentry into the Earth's atmosphere, adding even more excitement and innovation to the project. The auction event is slated for July.
Although the trend of sending NFTs into the outer atmosphere is relatively recent, other artists have already taken part in this unique phenomenon, making it a growing niche in both the non-fungible realm and the space exploration sector.
On July 28, 2021, Micah Johnson, a former Major League Baseball player, now an artist, sent his artwork titled 'Why Not Me' to space. This makes it one of the very first NFTs to fly to space and the first-ever digital painting to do so. The artwork showcases Johnson's character, Aku, a young black astronaut who symbolizes hope and limitless possibilities, particularly for people who belong to underrepresented communities.
A music NFT containing a rendition of Claude Debussy's 'Clair de Lune' performed by Hong Kong pianist Wing Kwong was also sent to space alongside Why Not Me in July 2021 by Artemis Music Entertainment.
Atlas is another NFT project that went to space. It includes a series of NFTs created by Xin Liu that combines the digital and analog worlds by utilizing radio frequencies from retired weather satellites to generate distinctive cartographic images. These decommissioned satellites, which were launched by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 1998, provide data that Liu has translated into images that look like Xerox copies of surveillance photos of Earth’s mountainous regions.
Sending NFTs to space is a significant milestone in the digital art world, marking a new era in the use and distribution of this technology. The launch of digital creations into space demonstrates the boundless possibilities that these innovative assets can achieve, including not only artistic expression but also commercial and scientific ventures.