Japan Launches 173-Foot Rocket Decked Out With Manga Art

Children all over the country participated in the project.

An H-2A rocket lifts off in 2016. Courtesy of JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images.

A Japanese rocket that shot a weather satellite into space on Wednesday featured colorful manga images in an effort to make children more aware of the “wonders of the universe,” according to Phys.org.

The 173-foot vessel carried artwork by artist Chuya Koyama, who is well known among manga enthusiasts for his comic book series Space Brothers, about two siblings who want to become astronauts. The illustrator launched the series in 2007, and it became a live action movie in 2012.

Courtesy Kodansha Comics

Courtesy Kodansha Comics.

Hirokazu Kosada, of the Young Astronauts Club of Japan, which organized the project, told Phys.org that it is believed to be the first time in the world that a rocket with manga art was launched. “We wanted children in Japan to be interested in space and the weather,” said Kosada.

The artworks were created using 30,000 digital images of photographs and paintings submitted by children all over Japan.

This is just the most recent example of artwork shot into space. Earlier this year, NASA invited the public to “send their artistic endeavors on a journey aboard NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft,” which aims to collect a sample of an asteroid along the way. And in 2012, the artist Trevor Paglen realized his five-year research project, The Last Pictures, which consisted of images meant to encapsulate our historical moment. He worked with scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to create an archival disc “encased in a gold-plated shell” containing a 100 photographs, which, as Creative Time notes on its website, “will remain in outer space slowly circling the Earth until the Earth itself is no more.”

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