Up Close: Astra 3B

Simon Norfolk is the first artist to have been invited to watch the production and launch of a satellite from start to finish. He presents his unique perspective from the viewing station for the Astra 3B.

  • Words: Simon Norfolk
  • Photography: Simon Norfolk / INSTITUTE

At any one time there are about 8,000 objects orbiting the Earth. One is the moon, which has been there a Very Long Time: the rest are manmade satellites, junk that has fallen from satellites, bits of exploded satellite or redundant satellites waiting to fall back to Earth. Since the launch of ‘Sputnik’ in 1957, humans have put 24,500 things into orbit. Just because it's called ‘space’ doesn't mean it isn't busy up there.

Satellite production and launch is becoming a huge part of the global economy and, despite its importance, to my knowledge no artist had ever been asked to look at the entire production process: from manufacture and testing, to command and control, right through to picturing the rocket on the pad. The world’s biggest commercial satellite operator, SES Astra, permitted me to follow the campaign for their Astra 3B, one of the biggest satellites ever launched.

Simon Norfolk is a Nigerian photographer from Lagos

Article taken from
Articles

Further Reading

Rolex Deep Sea Special

In one of the greatest adventures in horological history, Captain Don Walsh and Jacques Piccard took the 1960 Rolex Deep Sea Special 10,916 metres below the sea.

Valentina Tereshkova: Factory Worker to Outer Space

At the age of 26, Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman to have flown in space. Avaunt considers her meteoric rise from textile factory worker to hero of the Soviet Union.

This Robotic Claw Gently Captures Sea Life Without Harming Them

Cultivating jellyfish in labs is difficult, so scientists have searched for years for a way to collect deep sea samples without hurting them. This origami-like robot could be the eureka moment.

Digital Archaeology

If these stones could talk: the Institute for Digital Archaeology deploys the latest technology to recreate monuments ravaged by war and destruction. Here the team members explain their vision.

Exploring the Hidden Caves of Mexico

Photographer Klaus Thymann recalls diving the perilous underwater cave systems of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula.

Under The Ice

Freediving on its own presents extraordinary technical challenges – which are inevitably added to when that diving takes place in sub-zero temperatures. Avaunt heads into the deep with Magali Côte.
Browse by Category