This blog keeps you updated on the ongoing "outer space" series
30 January, 2019
A Bright Future - New Scientist magazine publicates the artwork "synlight"
In the 12/January 2019 edition the reknown UK magazine New Scientist publicates Michael´s artwork "synlight". The world’s biggest artificial sun has been blazing at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Jülich since 2017. Development of new production processes for solar fuels is the focus of this globally unique Synlight facility for solar research. It consists of 149 powerful Xenon short-arc lamps which scientists can concentrate on a target surface of 20 x 20 centimetres. If this surface is irradiated with beams of up to 350 kilowatts, a light intensity is produced equivalent to more than 10,000 times the solar radiation on the surface of the Earth. When the lamps are focussed they create temperatures of up to 3,000 degrees Celsius which researchers use to produce fuels such as hydrogen. Hydrogen is widely held to be the fuel of the future as it burns without giving off carbon dioxide. Production of hydrogen involves the splitting of the basic material, water, into its two components, hydrogen and oxygen.
The artwork “synlight” portrays the futuristic sun simulator at the German Aerospace Center. Hydrogen is a crucial basic material for spaceflight, and is used as fuel by rockets, spaceships and satellites. As there’s an abundance of water in space - asteroids, for instance, harbour plentiful reserves - in future solar energy could be used to produce the fuel directly in space. This facility with its 149 powerful short-arc lamps was photographed from three different perspectives on one linear axis. The triptych-based composition of the picture layers and fuses the three perspectives so as to exemplify the basic idea of the splitting of a water molecule into two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. The background highlights the industrial research nature of the artificial sunlight facility and underscores its awesome dimensions. Development of solar fuels is essential not just for spaceflight alone but also for our own lives on Earth because in tomorrow’s world renewable energies will form the backbone of the global energy supply.
Michael Najjar has been a member of the Virgin Galactic Pioneer Astronaut team since 2012. After many years of development and testing, setbacks and progress, on the 13th December 2018 Spaceship VSS Unity at long last reached the border of space during a historic test flight. After many years of accompanying and supporting this project and undergoing numerous space training sessions in Germany, the US and Russia, Michael´s goal of becoming the first artist in space now is finally within reach.
Opening of the epic landmark exhibition „CIVILIZATION“ at Museum MCA, Seoul, South Korea
Michael with curator Bill Ewing in front of "orbital ascent"
The epic landmark exhibition "Civilization: The Way We Live Now" curated by prestigious curators William A. Ewing and Holly Roussel features over 300 photographic artworks depicting the status of the human society in the early 21st century. Not since Edward Steichen’s The Family of Man more than 60 years ago has a single exhibition tackled such a broad spectrum of human activity: habitation, transport, society, culture, art, science and technology, order and disorder.
Civilization has been produced by the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul, and the Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography, Minneapolis and Lausanne. After its showing at the MMCA in Seoul it will travel on to China, Australia, Europe and the Americas. Among the first venues are the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia; Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, China; and the National Museum of Civilization, Marseille, France.
Michael Najjar is featured in the exhibition with 3 artworks from his acclaimed "outer space" series.
Shooting at European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC)
In August 2018 Michael visited the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in Noordwijk, the Netherlands. ESTEC is the European Space Agency's main technology development and test center for spacecraft and space technology. Michael was given the opportunity to take pictures from the HERTZ Chamber and the Large Space Simulator.
HERTZ is an anechoic chamber, screened against external electromagnetic radiation and their inside walls are covered with pyramid-shaped non-reflective foam to absorb signals and prevent unwanted reflections. HERTZ performs measurements on larger antennas or complete satellite payloads. Isolated from the outside world with radio- and sound-absorbing internal walls, the chamber simulates the boundless conditions of space. Its hybrid nature makes it unique: Hertz can assess radio signals from antennas either on a local ‘near-field’ basis or as if the signal has crossed thousands of kilometres of space, allowing it to serve all kinds of satellites and antenna systems.
The Large Space Simulator (LLS) is Europe's single largest vacuum chamber. It is a cylindrical container standing 15m high and 10m wide. The Simulator is used to test full-size spacecraft in representative space conditions. The Simulator's high-performance pumps can achieve a vacuum a billion times lower than standard sea level atmosphere, while liquid nitrogen circulated around the Simulator approximates the cryogenic temperatures of space. An array of powerful xenon lamps can reproduce the unfiltered sunlight encountered in Earth orbit, or turned up even higher to duplicate the energy intensity experienced closer to the Sun. Hardware can also be rotated in order to reproduce characteristic orbital motion as testing proceeds.
“orbital outpost” (2018)
Over the last century the technical futuristic vision of a manned space station became the apogee of all speculative thought on space and the privileged locus for all extra-terrestrial aspiration. The orbital station was the central element in the futuristic logic of expansion as the infrastructural prerequisite for human penetration of the endless depths of space.
The work “orbital outpost” deals with the realization of the space station utopia, and the relationship between technology, the human body and weightlessness. In space there is no oxygen, sound, nor atmospheric pressure, only darkness and an all-encompassing void. In zero gravity even the simplest repairs to the space station become complicated ventures. A highly complex technological support system enveloping the human body in multiple layers is critical for survival. "orbital outpost” fuses outside shots of a spacewalk from the International Space Station with images of earlier space stations including the American Skylab, the Russian Mir, Wernher von Braun’s vision, and the iconic space station from Stanley Kubrick’s famous film. The centre of the composition is the human body clad in its protective technological shell and in imminent danger of floating away, one hand just manages to grasp the handhold. Even though a permanently crewed outpost is now in orbit around the Earth, space still remains an inimical and deeply alien environment – which makes it an ideal realm for our imagination and a green screen for our musings on utopian worlds.
20 June, 2018
Exhibition at Bank/MABSociety Gallery in Shanghai
Michael Najjar participates at the exhibition "The Legacy of Architectonic Futurism" in Shanghai, China.
For the first time, BANK brings together the disciplines of art and architecture to pay homage to a visionary whose prophetic creations saw no limits. The Legacy of Architectonic Futurism is a group show in honor of the visionary and fantastical spirit of Lebbeus Woods (1940-2012) an artist, theorist, educator, and architect whose politically charged and provocative illustrations were designs of systems in crisis. Drawing parallels between society’s physical and psychological constructions, Woods generated a career-long narrative of how these structures transform our consciousness.
On view at the exhibition is Michael´s artwork "f.a.s.t." which belongs to his "outer space" series. The work pictures the largest astronomical radio telescope on earth. China built this staggeringly large instrument called the “Five hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope” in the remote and barely accessible southern mountainous region of the country. Inaugurated in 2017, the telescope was constructed in a natural sinkhole surrounded by the extraordinary mountains of the Pingtang valley. The telescope has an incredible diameter of 500 m.
Virgin Galactic completes first rocket-powered test flight of VSS UNITY spaceship
Virgin Galactic´s new spaceship VSS Unity has successfully completed her first supersonic, rocket-powered test flight on 5 April, 2018. The flight was the first powered test flight by the VSS Unity spaceship, built after the crash of Virgin Galactic’s first SpaceShipTwo vehicle, which killed co-pilot Michael Alsbury and injured lead pilot Peter Siebold after an in-flight breakup 10 miles above California’s Mojave Desert on Oct. 31, 2014. After several years of rebuilding and testing the new vehicle this is a major milestone for the program. The drop occurred about an hour after the VMS Eve mothership took off from Mojave Air and Spaceport in Mojave, California. The carrier jet, piloted by Mike Masucci and Nicola Pecile, climbed to an altitude of around 46,500 feet (about 14,200 meters) over the Sierra Nevada Mountains. After turning on a course back toward Mojave, the VMS Eve released the VSS Unity spaceship, and the spaceplane fired its rocket motor a few seconds later. VSS Unity accelerated to Mach 1.87 during the 30 seconds of rocket burn. Burning a mixture of rubber-based solid fuel — called HTPB — and nitrous oxide, the rear-mounted rocket engine propelled SpaceShipTwo to nearly twice the speed of sound as the pilots maneuvered the craft on an 80-degree climb.
Being one of Virging Galactic´s Pioneer Astronauts VSS Unity is the spaceship which Michael will enter in the near future performing his own spaceflight to become the first artist in space.
Michael takes pictures in an active volcano in New Zealand
In Feburary 2018 Michael flew with a helicopeter into the crater of an active volcano to take pictures for a new "outer space" artwork. The pictures were taken in the bizarre crater landscape of the Whakaari volcano, New Zealand’s only active volcanic island. Sulfurous gasses emerge hissing from fumaroles everywhere, rising from the innermost depths of our Earth to crystallize on the surface. This shows why the surface of the crater is covered with an ejected layer of pure sulfur glowing bright yellow. Yet the crater is only the visible peak of a huge underwater mountain that extends 1600 m down to the seabed. The volcanic cone and its imposing walls of sulfur are over two million years old.
In nearly every culture volcanoes have always been magical mysterious places and the seat of the gods. However, they are also a vital area of research for scientists, and not just the volcanoes on Earth but also those in the solar system. With the new findings about supervolcanoes on Mars and extinct craters on the moon, researchers are hoping to learn more about the history and creation of our own solar system and Earth. Many worlds in the solar system show traces of extinct volcanic activity, including the Earth’s moon and Mars which is home to the largest volcano in the solar system. The most active volcanic world in the solar system is the Jupiter moon Io. Cryovolcanism or ice volcano activity has been observed on the Saturn moon Enceladus and the Neptune moon Triton.
11 January, 2018
New book publication „Planetary Echoes - Exploring the Implications of Human Settlement in Outer Space
The succesful launch of SpaceX´s Falcon9 Heavy Rocket on 6 February - now heading to Mars - clearly demonstrates that we are entering a new space age - humanity is on the way to become a bi-planetary species in the next decades. The perfect moment for Michael Najjar and Lukas Feireiss to announce the publication of the new book "Planetary Echoes - Exploring the Implications of Human Settlement in Outer Space" which explores the idea of future human existence on other planets - and the companion theme of the colonisation of space - in art, literature and science. The collection of authors who have contributed an essay to this publication must surely be unrivalled anywhere in the world. In the synergy of their texts a breath-taking vision unfolds of our future life in space.
The editors wish to thank the following authors for their inspiring and visionary contributions:
Buzz Aldrin, Anousheh Ansari, Nelly Ben Hayoun, Thore Bjørnvig, Richard Branson, Clouds Architecture Office, Pierre Cox, Xavier De Kestelier, Norman Foster, Alexander C. T. Geppert, Ulrich Köhler, Michael López-Alegría, Greg Lynn, Fabian Reimann, Tim Smit, Christiane Stahl, Sethu Vijayakumar, Andy Weir, Frank White, Peter Weibel.
Published by Spector Books Leipzig
89 black-white and colour illustrations
Leipzig, January, 2018
Size: 18 cm x 11 cm
Michael Najjar, Lukas Feireiss
Floyd E. Schulze, WTHM – Büro für Gestaltung
Michael portrays the world´s biggest artificial sun
The world’s biggest artificial sun has been blazing at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Jülich since 2017. Development of new production processes for solar fuels is the focus of this globally unique Synlight facility for solar research. It consists of 149 powerful Xenon short-arc lamps which scientists can concentrate on a target surface of 20 x20 centimetres. If this surface is irradiated with beams of up to 350 kilowatts, a light intensity is produced equivalent to more than 10,000 times the solar radiation on the surface of the Earth. When the lamps are focussed they create temperatures of up to 3,000 degrees Celsius which researchers use to produce fuels such as hydrogen. Hydrogen is widely held to be the fuel of the future as it burns without giving off carbon dioxide. Production of hydrogen involves the splitting of the basic material, water, into its two components, hydrogen and oxygen.
Hydrogen is a crucial basic material for spaceflight, and is used as fuel by rockets, spaceships and satellites. As there’s an abundance of water in space - asteroids, for instance, harbour plentiful reserves - in future solar energy could be used to produce the fuel directly in space. Development of solar fuels is essential not just for spaceflight alone but also for our own lives on Earth because in tomorrow’s world renewable energies will form the backbone of the global energy supply.
Special thanks to:
German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Kai Wieghardt, Michel Winand