When man first landed on the moon, the entire world held its breath. Young and old alike gathered around radio sets and black-and-white TVs to keep minute-by-minute tabs on the unprecedented undertaking. From Australia to Moscow to London, each anxiously waited as that first small step was taken. From those early days, space exploration continues to hold a special spot in the hearts and minds of anyone who’s ever looked up at the stars.
Image 1. Uplift Aerospace's artwork will be painted on the top capsule section of a future Blue Origin New Shepard mission. This image shows the NS-14 Blue Origin New Shepard rocket launch
Popularity of Space
Evidence for this continued interest in space exploration can be seen in a variety of sources. In 2018 the National Air and Space Museum was the most popular Smithsonian Museum, hosting 6.2 million visits, over a million more than the next most popular, the National Museum of Natural History.
We can see more evidence for this popularity as it extends to the social media sphere. Livestreams of standard rocket launches regularly reach over a million views, a feat normally reserved for only the largest of influencers. The videos hosted on the Blue Origin, SpaceX, and NASA YouTube Channels combine for more than a billion views.
The Combined Hope and Thoughts of Humanity
Even in tragedy, the idea of advancements in space continues to influence the hearts of people on Earth. Down here, tragedy is an all too common occurrence. All that’s necessary to hear of an accident involving a plane crash, or of a multi-car pileup is to check the news. While these stories are devastating, space-related tragedies elicit a heightened level of grief and reflection.
When the Challenger disaster occurred, the nation was shocked. President Reagan gave a speech to the nation saying: “We've grown used to the idea of space, and perhaps we forget that we've only just begun. We're still pioneers. They, the members of the Challenger crew, were pioneers…The future doesn't belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave. The Challenger crew was pulling us into the future, and we'll continue to follow them.”
Desire to Be A Part Of The Future
While many topics hold our attention, the dedication that’s given to space exploration lifts it above other popular subjects of discussion. A result of this special spot in human hearts is reflected in the desire to be a part of this space. During NASA’s last call for astronaut applications, more than 18,000 people applied. Similarly, when a company made calls for volunteers to settle Mars, they received more than 200,000 volunteers.
While it’s easy to be a fan of hobbies in our culture, space has the peculiar ability to drive action from the general public. This action ranges from amateur astronomy to applying for astronaut positions, to purchasing space memorabilia.
Increased Demand for Space-Related Items
We can similarly track the popularity in the value of space-related memorabilia. Millimeter-wide fragments of Apollo missions are still available for purchase online. Auction houses hold entire Apollo-themed events, selling memorabilia and artifacts from the missions.
In one recent auction, joysticks from the Apollo 11 mission sold for more than $780,000! In another, a contingency lunar sample bag was purchased for 1.8 million dollars. A manual used to keep track of the Apollo 11 mission titled “Apollo 11 LM Timeline Book,” was put on sale for 5 million dollars.
Image 2. Apollo 11 Command Module pilot Michael Collins practicing in the CM simulator. Items that went to space, similar to the document held by Michael Collins in this image, are selling for millions of dollars. Image credit: NASA
These sales demonstrate the kind of value that’s imbued in any object associated with important space-related achievements.
Uplift Aerospace, in partnership with renowned artists, is using Space as inspiration to create iconic products. One such project is the "Suborbital Triptych, which Uplift has used to pioneer the process for artists to create incredible works of art on the exterior of spacecraft.
The artwork will be painted onto the exterior of the spacecraft and launched to space while hundreds of thousands of viewers watch. Upon re-entry to the Earth, the artwork will be curated for display. One of the main outcomes will be developing one of the most durable paintings ever created, which will open the door to a whole new platform of artistic creation for artists and art lovers. This process ensures that the art is one-of-a-kind in every respect.
Image 3. Artists painting an exterior rocket panel for testing the durability of the materials. Uplift Aerospace has successfully pioneered the method for artists to hand-paint murals and incredible artworks on the exterior of rockets. These artworks will be some of the most durable ever created.
Uplift for Good
Uplift Aerospace’s “Uplift for Good'' initiative is leveraging this increased attention in space exploration to raise money for charity. Proceeds from the initial purchase of the artwork go towards causes like Project OUR which exists to rescue children from sex trafficking and Project Reef Life in its mission to rebuild 1 million square feet of coral reef by 2025. The artwork is then provided to the buyer after the spacecraft returns from orbit.
Blue Origin, NASA, and others will continue to make progress towards human exploration of the cosmos, and whether it be space tourism or asteroid mining, the public will continue to eagerly follow along.
Right now, the Apollo missions still jump to mind when human exploration is mentioned. Here in a decade or two, it’s more likely than not that the next “Apollo 11” will have entered the public consciousness, bringing with it an incredible opportunity for those involved.
For this next “Apollo 11,” the world won’t be watching cathode-ray tubes or listening via radio. The next space exploration event will be live-blogged, shared on social media, and discussed by journalists on twitter. One thing won’t change though. The world will still hold its breath, and follow as they’re “pulled into the future”.