First Oil Paintings to Orbit Earth


N.A.S.A. Space Shuttle Columbia Mission STS-61-C January 12, 1986 G-481

Aside from survival, people living in space will have many needs, among them, the aesthetic.  Artist Ellery Kurtz and environmental psychologist Howard Wishnow founded Vertical Horizons, a company dedicated to the enhancement of life in space. 

Through N.A.S.A.'s Get Away Special (GAS) program an experiment was designed to test organic art materials such as oil-based paints, linen canvas, primers and bonding materials for degradation during space flight. The canister designated G-481 was the 46th such canister flown aboard a Space Shuttle.  The Space Shuttle Columbia orbited the Earth 98 times during it's mission duration time of 6 days, 2 hours, 3 minutes and 51 seconds.

The Space Shuttle Columbia was launched from Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, FL on January 12, 1986 at 6:55:00 a.m. EST and landed at the Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. on January 18, 1986 at 5:58:51 a.m. PST.

Vertical Horizons evaluated the materials both pre-flight and post-flight to learn how the space environment had affected them.  The experiment formed a foundation for the future study of methods for transporting visual art objects in space.

Four original oil paintings by the artist were loaded into the GAS canister.  These paintings are the first original oil paintings created by a human to orbit the Earth adding a significant page to the history of both art and space exploration.