by Milo Sumner in Tech on Saturday 9 August 2014

Japanese artist Azuma Makoto has taken a giant leap on behalf of mankind. The 38-year old recently became the person responsible for sending the first bonsai tree into space, a momentous occasion.

Makoto is primarily concerned with installation art and this is no exception, except that normally his pieces are firmly on this planet. At the launch site in Black Rock Desert, Nevada last week, Makoto told T Magazine the thinking behind sending a bonsai tree (as well as a bouquet of brightly-coloured flowers from around the world) beyond the stratosphere.

‘I wanted to see the movement and beauty of plants and flowers suspended in space’.

The project, entitled Exobiotanica, was accomplished with the help of Sacramento-based JP Aerospace. John Powell, the founder and director of this volunteer ‘alternative space program’, has been sending objects to space since he was twelve years old.

Using ultra-light styrofoam frames and massive helium balloons,the two botanical satellites were lifted up into space, each one mounted with a rig of cameras to provide images from every angle. Once released from their moorings, both bonsai and bouquet ascended for over an hour and a half. The rig holding the diminuitive tree reaching 91,800 feet before the lack of pressure caused the helium balloon to burst and send it plummeting for a full forty minutes, parachutes opened and softened it’s impact. The flower-rig reached 87,000 feet before also returning to earth. While both rigs were recovered using GPS tracking, neither the bonsai nor the flower arrangement were ever found.

Perhaps their still up in orbit, waiting to delight (and thoroughly confuse) a passing space-man.

Via T Magazine