Format 1: 132 x 202 cm / 52 x 79.5 in, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Format 2: 67 x 102 cm / 26.3 in x 40.2, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Hybrid photography, archival pigment print, aludibond, diasec, custom-made aluminium frame
Orbital launch vehicles like the Ariane5 commonly take off vertically, and then begin to progressively lean over, usually following a smoothly curved trajectory. Once above the dense part of the atmosphere, the vehicle carefully angles the rocket engine jet, slowly pointing the launcher horizontally, which permits the vehicle to progressively aim at the required orbit while increasing its speed. As the speed grows, the vehicle approaches its target above Earth then, when the specified speed and orbital speed are reached, the upper stage engine is shut down.
The artwork “gravity turn“ visualises this physical process. The picture was taken during the milestone Ariane 5 VA233 launch at the Guiana Space Center (CSG) near Kourou in French Guiana on 17 November 2016. The launch vehicle and its smoke column build of solid propellant combustion were photographed during the pitchover maneuver about 90 seconds after liftoff, shortly before booster separation. The rocket´s flight path is no longer vertical, the gravital turn places the rocket on the correct heading for its ascent to orbit. Some minutes after the picture was taken, the launcher released four Galileo satellites in orbit, starting the service of the new European Navigation System.
The artwork combines a skywards view photographed by the artist from the ground near the launch pad with a view from sky towards the Earth photographed from an airplane flying over French Guiana.