I am a total astro-nut. I’ve read tons of books on space. Celestial bodies have been prominent in many of my writing projects (my first picture book dummy, years ago, was Obadiah’s Moon Blues – yeah, it was as bad as it sounds). I’ve even shaken hand with two of the twelve Apollo moon-walkers.
And yet somehow, until now, I’ve missed that an actual sculpture was commissioned for, and placed on, the Moon! It was not well publicized. Nor can I find it mentioned in my lunar bible, A Man on the Moon by Andrew Chaikin. But it turns out that astronaut David Scott, of Apollo 15, asked Belgian artist Paul Van Hoeydonck to create a small, durable figure, of no gender or race, to honor the (fourteen) astronauts and cosmonauts who had died up to that point in the space race. The tiny aluminum statue was called Fallen Astronaut. It was quietly placed by Scott on the Moon in August of 1971. Whoa.
The artist, now 88, will be speaking next week at the Air and Space Museum here in D.C. http://airandspace.si.edu/events/detail.cfm?id=8038, which is how I learned of this. Sadly, I don’t think I can go; I’m already booked to teach the visionary artists of tomorrow. But that’s okay. I’m counting on one of their works to one day end up on Mars.
Sculpture and plaque, as photographed on the Moon.