A bonsai tree in space. Wow. This week a Japanese artist launched a bonsai tree and a bouquet of flowers into space from the site of Burning Man. What?! Using high altitude helium balloons and with the help of JP Aerospace, Azuma Makoto launched these living plants into the stratosphere within a thin metal frame. The why is much less important than the wow.
To accomplish this mission, titled Exobiotanica, Makoto and his 10-person crew teamed with Sacramento-based JP Aerospace — “America’s Other Space Program” — a volunteer-based organization that constructs and sends vessels into orbit. JP’s owner and founder, John Powell, started launching things into the upper atmosphere in 1977, when he was still a teenager. “The best thing about this project is that space is so foreign to most of us,” says Powell, “so seeing a familiar object like a bouquet of flowers flying above Earth domesticates space, and the idea of traveling into it.”