Japanese floral artist Makoto Azuma has been making
Earth-bound floral arrangements for years. Recently, however, he decided to
launch his work into our stratosphere and take a series of striking photographs as part of an art project titled Exobiotanica.
Here, he covers a lightweight metal cage with 30 different
varieties of flowers including peace lilies, dahlias, and hydrangeas.
"I am using brightly colored flowers from around the world so they contrast
against the darkness of space," he told The New York Times.
Makoto Azuma had a 50-year-old bonsai tree from his own collection
flown from Japan to the United States in a special box for the project. The
tree was launched from the Black Rock Desert in Nevada -- site of the
annual Burning Man festival -- at 6:30 in the morning.
To get his flowers and mini tree airborne, floral artist Makoto Azuma worked with JP Aerospace, which bills itself as an independent space program. "The JPA team consists of volunteers who design,
solder, test, and assemble some of the most innovative hardware in aerospace
today," says the company's website.
Here, the team readies one of the two vessels for its flight skyward. The system that carried the bouquet was called Away 100, while the one carrying the
bonsai was Away 101. They both consisted of lightweight metal cages attached to
weather balloons. Each had a series of still and video cameras as well as
a Spot GPS tracker so that they could locate the equipment once it fell back
to Earth on its parachute-assisted return.