The Isfahan Museum of Contemporary Art is scheduled to put on view a copy of Fallen Astronaut, a miniature aluminum sculpture that was taken on the Apollo 15 mission to the Moon in 1971, in an exhibition opening tomorrow.
The 8.9-cm sculpture created by Belgian sculptor Paul van Hoeydonck was left there along with a plaque honoring the 14 American and Soviet space travelers who had died up to that time in the course of human spaceflight.
The museum announced on Wednesday that it received the 17th edition of the statuette as a present on February 22, 2019. The announcement did not refer to the name of the donator.
The exhibition of the figurine will run until August 7.
Prior to his Apollo 15 lunar mission, astronaut David Scott met Van Hoeydonck at a dinner party. There it was agreed that Van Hoeydonck would create a small statuette for Scott to place on the Moon, though their recollections of the details differ.
Scott’s purpose was to commemorate those astronauts and cosmonauts who had lost their lives in the furtherance of space exploration, and he designed and separately made a plaque listing 14 American and Soviet names.
Van Hoeydonck was given a set of design specifications: the sculpture was to be lightweight but sturdy, capable of withstanding the temperature extremes of the Moon; it could not be identifiably male or female, nor of any identifiable ethnic group.
According to Scott, it was agreed Van Hoeydonck’s name would not be made public, to avoid the commercial exploitation of the U.S. government’s space program.
Scott got permission from top NASA management prior to the mission to take the statue aboard his spacecraft, but did not disclose it publicly until a post-mission press conference.
Scott secretly placed the Fallen Astronaut statue on the Moon during the Apollo 15 mission, near the completion of his work on August 1, 1971, along with a plaque bearing the names of eight American astronauts and six Soviet cosmonauts who had died in service.
Photo: “Fallen Astronaut” statue and a name plaque on the surface of the Moon.