Artist Azuma Makoto has teamed up with JP Aerospace to send botanical matter into space, a project which has resulted in a truly remarkable set of images.
"Flowers aren't just beautiful to show on tables," Makoto told the New York Times, proving this in rather extreme fashion as he suspended a white pine bonsai and an arrangement of orchids, hydrangeas, lilies and irises and launched them into the stratosphere using a balloon.
The mission was accomplished from Black Rock Desert in Nevada, home to Burning Man festival, with help from "America's Other Space Program" JP Aerospace, the founder of which, John Powell, began sending things up into space when he was a teenager. "The best thing about this project is that space is so foreign to most of us," said Powell, "so seeing a familiar object like a bouquet of flowers flying above Earth domesticates space, and the idea of traveling into it." Makoto added that he "wanted to see the movement and beauty of plants and flowers suspended in space," with the orchid arrangement disintegrating during its flight in breath-taking fashion.
Its vessel was later found back on Earth though the flowers were not, meaning space just received a slightly more beautiful form of debris than the usual satellites and rocket stages. Makoto is said to have worked "quietly" as he readied the plants for flight in the desert, and after both pieces went up he embraced his team and smiled, saying: "I always wanted to travel to space. This is a dream come true."