Koons on the Moon? Artist’s SpaceX Lift Off Delayed

A Valentine's Day mission has been thwarted as technical issues blight Elon Musk's SpaceX rocket.

Jeff Koons and Chantelle Baier with Jeff Koons: Moon Phases. Photo: Chris Farina.

The sky’s the limit? Not for Jeff Koons. There aren’t any galleries or museums on the moon (yet) but extraterrestrial dilettantes are in luck. If all goes to plan, there will soon be some contemporary art.

The Jeff Koons: Moon Phases project is set to become the first authorized artwork to make it to the moon, but only if it can achieve lift off. The artwork is booked onboard a Nova-C Odysseus lunar lander that will be propelled into space by a Falcon 9 rocket designed by Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

The lander, designed by the private American aerospace company Intuitive Machines, was all set to depart this morning from NASA’s Kennedy Space Station in Cape Canaveral, Florida, for what is expected to be an eight-day journey. The Valentine’s Day ascent has had to be postponed until 1:05 a.m. tomorrow, however, due to technical issues relating to the rocket’s fuel.

Heading to outer space is a set of 125 one-inch moon sculptures by Koons that represent different phases of the moon cycle and are associated with various historical figures like Galileo, Mozart, and Leonardo da Vinci. Each of the miniature moons correspond to one NFT from Jeff Koon’s “Moon Phases” collection, which is offered by Pace Verso.

The idea for the project was first conceived in partnership with the scientist and designer Chantelle Baier about four years ago. It was announced in 2022, with plans for lift off later that year that never materialized. Koons even claimed he had considered traveling to the moon himself but couldn’t find the time in his schedule.

“Space explorations have given us a perspective of our ability to transcend worldly constraints,” Koons said in 2022. “These ideas are central to my NFT project, which can be understood as a continuation and celebration of humanity’s aspirational accomplishments within and beyond our own planet.”

The landing site is Malapert A. crater about 185 miles from the moon’s south pole. Once on the lunar surface, the artwork will remain in perpetuity as a heritage site as part of the Artemis Accords, which ensures the protection of historically important sites and artifacts in outer space.

If it eventually manages to complete it’s mission, the lander will become the first U.S. spacecraft to land intact on the moon in over 50 years, since Apollo 17’s landing in 1972. The journey doesn’t come without risks. A few weeks ago, the American lander known as Peregrine failed to make it to the moon due to a fuel leak and instead burst into flames over the Pacific Ocean. Last month, Japan became the fifth nation to successfully land on the moon.

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