Odysseus makes landing with Jeff Koons’ “Moon Phases”

Odysseus makes landing with Jeff Koons’ “Moon Phases”
A part of Moon Phases by Jeff Koons, courtesy of the artist.
Leading lights  -   Curators

Humanity’s relationship with putting our mark on the universe at large grows more prominent with each step forward our technologies take. From claiming stars as gifts to launching a gaudy car into orbit, we’ve reached a new milestone as a planet in both travel and imprint: Odysseus, a lunar lander by Intuitive Machines, has touched down on the moon bearing the first commercial payloads to our satellite.


Odysseus is the first of a series of lunar landers designated Nova-C, designed specifically for small-scale payloads to the moon. Odysseus launched on February 21st and landed on the 22nd in a small crater on the south pole of the moon. Not long after it appears that the lander fell on its side, but it is apparently still operational for the scientific applications NASA and others have intended for it.


Notable on this payload is a project by Jeff Koons, and it is thankfully a degree less gaudy than sending a metal balloon animal into space. Still in the vein of the artist’s repertoire, Moon Phases is a series of 125 miniature stainless steel models of the phases of the moon. The collection is housed in a cube designed and built by 4Space, a company seemingly seeking to collaborate with artists and brands in this new era of commercial space travel. Each of the models has a label honouring significant individuals in human history across the globe, and, in Intuitive Machines’ words, “Koons honors some of the greatest achievements of the past to inspire future generations.”


It is hard to posit whether Odysseus’ success is a positive sign for the future. While a successful joint effort between the rich and existing space exploration agencies, it is a sizeable amount of money to send to a dead rock for the sake of aesthetic memory. But it’s still more tactful than that Roadster.