The “nonfunctional satellites” are sculptures designed to be placed into low-earth orbit where they will appear as bright points of light slowly moving across the sky to viewers on earth’s surface. They are designed to last for only a few weeks before burning up in the atmosphere. Developed in collaboration with aerospace engineers, the designs combine maximum reflectivity and surface area with minimum weight.
These designs are responses to the question of what aerospace engineering would look like if its methods were decoupled from the corporate and military interests underlying the industry. The nonfunctional satellite recasts the old question of “art for art’s sake” within a different context, asking whether we can imagine something like “aerospace engineering for aerospace engineering’s sake.” As such, the spacecraft is a kind of “impossible object” that works as both a critique of the militarization and commercialization of the night sky, and a way to imagine how things could be different.