IN ORBIT >> Paintings by former Brattleborian artists Richard Schmid and Nancy Guzik orbit Earth every 93 minutes aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The artwork by these two well-known American artists was successfully delivered to the ISS on Dec. 9 by the Cygnus spacecraft as part of a joint science/art mission which included a science experiment from students at Valley Christian High School in San Jose, Calif.
Not only did Schmid's students work hard creating their experiments, but they created them twice! As did the artists. An earlier attempt to send their art (and that of Schmid's granddaughter, Samantha) to the ISS failed when the Falcon 9 supply rocket carrying the artwork exploded shortly before achieving orbit. The artists received an email from Schmid on June 28, that said, "I am very sad to report that the Falcon 9 rocket carrying your artworks exploded a few minutes after liftoff today. NASA does not know what caused the explosion yet. However, your artworks did achieve supersonic speed and are the first artworks to be lost in space."
Undaunted, Schmid and Guzik made a new set of paintings for a successful second attempt. Schmid expressed his thanks for this achievement to James Nadir, a Silicon Valley engineer who retired from Intel and now mentors students in the Valley Christian High School ISS program. An artist himself, Nadir had invited Schmid, Guzik and Samantha to create art to accompany his students' science experiment on its voyage to the ISS. Breathing a sigh of relief at this successful second attempt, Nadir remarked, "So it's now OK to say Richard Schmid and Nancy Guzik have the fastest art in the world!"
Nadir's son, Andy, whose experiment was aboard the ill-fated Falcon 9 summarized the event, "We knew there was risk whenever you put something on top of 500 tons of explosive force. The real value however was the learning, the team work, and the engineering and that was not lost." To hear some of the high school students talking about their lost ISS experiments visit: http://abc7news.com/science/spacex-rocket-had-supplies-from-san-jose-students/814581/.
Commenting on the mission, Nadir said, "What is important is not only that their art is orbiting our planet, but they also have dedicated it to the bright young people who get themselves involved in the arts and sciences. There is a real world out there waiting, filled with beauty and wonder, which can only be experienced by being part of it."
The Valley Christian High School ISS program, which is open to all schools, currently has schools from around the world, from Finland to Indonesia, participating to fly their experiments on
the ISS. (For more information about the program, contact Werner Vavken at email@example.com)
Although Schmid's granddaughter was unable to join in this second attempt, on Dec. 6 the experiments and the new artworks by Schmid and Guzik were successfully launched aboard an Atlas V rocket carrying Orbital Science's Cygnus spacecraft. The Cygnus spacecraft rendezvoused with the ISS on Dec. 9, and was pulled in by the robotic arm.
The experiments, along with the art, are now orbiting Earth every 93 minutes. This art/science wonder is expected to circle the earth 330 times at a speed of 17,500 mph, at an altitude of 221 miles, for a total distance traveled of 9 million miles. If the mission is extended, it could cover as many as 25 million miles.
To find out when the Orbiting Fine Art Gallery will be passing overhead (although it may just look like a slow-moving star), visit NASA's ISS-spotting site at: http://spotthestation.nasa.gov/sightings/#.Vni_zzbSlbp