After several delays, the orbital reflector finally launched into space just after 10:30 Monday morning. It will be visible from earth with the naked eye. 

However, you might not be able to actually catch a glimpse of it, immediately. That's because there's still a few steps before the art piece, which is, in essence, a balloon, is released from the satellite that's carrying it.

Amanda Horn, Director of Communications for the Nevada Museum of Art says, "Now, we have to talk to the satellite, locate it, confirm our tracking information that the Air Force provides, then tell our balloon to inflate."

It will likely be several more hours until the satellite actually releases the reflector.  The art piece will orbit earth every hour and a half...at 350 miles above the planet's surface. Although you may not be able to see it each time, because of weather conditions.

In about two days, residents can begin to track its location online at this tracking website, or through a phone app called "Star Walk 2," which will tell you when it's flying overhead. 

The launch today was historic, given this is the first object solely with an artistic purpose to go into space. There was also a record number of satellites aboard the same rocket, more than 60--some were even student projects.

Experts say it's a sign of increased accessibility to space, and proof the human race has come a long way since Sputnik back in 1957. Paul Mcfarlane, Director of the Fleischmann Planetarium and Science Center says, "We live in a very exciting time, a new space age where people are looking at going out there themselves or vicariously with various instruments and technology like these," he continues, "So, it's exciting to see art and science being done, as long as we do that responsibly."

The art installation was created by artist Trevor Paglen in partnership with the Nevada Museum of Art.

The Nevada Museum of Art is hosting a launch celebration party on Saturday, December 15th from 7 P.M. until 10 P.M. For more information, click here. 


Original Story:

If you're looking at the night sky next week, you might be able to catch a glimpse of something new - a satellite sent up into the Earth's atmosphere as a piece of art.  It's something that's been years in the making - more than a decade of dreaming and three years in production.  On Monday, artist Trevor Paglen and the Nevada Museum of Art will launch a satellite called "Orbital Reflector" into space.

"Orbital Reflector was designed to be the first satellite to exist purely as an art object," said Amanda Horn of the Nevada Museum of Art.  "It's a diamond-shaped balloon that will reflect sunlight and it will appear as bright as a star in the Big Dipper so it will be naked-eye visible; you can track it on our website."

The launch is planned for Monday at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

"It's packed into a cube satellite that will rise on the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket," Horn said.  "Once it ejects into lower orbit the balloon will inflate and orbit the earth several times a day for a few months before it descends and burns up forever and leaves no trace."

It's designed to be a conversation piece.

"It's questioning things about space, saying, what is going on up there, who's allowed to be in space," Horn said.  "What's the history of space flight been and is there a future of space flight we could imagine differently if only for a moment?  Art allows us to do that, to look at the world differently, to have conversations so we can share ideas."

The museum worked with local agencies to develop STEAM curriculum to help students look at the project through a lens of art, photography, engineering, physics and earth science.

"It shows how engineers and artists worked together to create a satellite that has no military, commercial or scientific purpose," Horn said.  "We think Orbital Reflector is an example of the kinds of risk taking that exist here in Nevada."

You can watch the launch live here: https://www.spacex.com/webcast