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Korean Artist's Intentionally Useless Satellite To Launch This December 151

An anonymous reader quotes the introduction to Inhabit's article on the upcoming launch of an art project cum satellite intended to be as different as possible from conventional space hardware: "South Korean artist Song Hojun has created his own DIY satellite from scratch – and he's planning to launch it into space this coming December. Song created the satellite from assorted junk he found in back-alley electronics stores in his home town of Seoul, and over the course of six years he has finally managed to complete his space-bound project. Song's satellite cost just over $400 to make, however the cost of launching it to space is going to be a lot, lot more – over $100,000."
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Korean Artist's Intentionally Useless Satellite To Launch This December

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  • by BMOC ( 2478408 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @01:23PM (#40986353)
    Seriously, we don't need more space junk. This "artist" is a griefer.
    • Oh come on. I can't imagine that this $400 "satellite" has a propulsion system of any kind. It will deorbit in months if not weeks, and burn up on reentry in to the atmosphere. This satellite isn't going to be space junk.
      • by DerekLyons ( 302214 ) <fairwater.gmail@com> on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @02:23PM (#40987191) Homepage

        Oh come on. I can't imagine that this $400 "satellite" has a propulsion system of any kind. It will deorbit in months if not weeks, and burn up on reentry in to the atmosphere.

        It doesn't need a propulsion system to avoid deorbiting in weeks or months - it just needs to be put in a high enough orbit that atmospheric drag is minimized. Out beyond a couple of hundred miles, you're into a lifetime of years if not decades. Out a couple of thousand and you start getting into the centuries if not millenia range.
        Not to mention, there's a huge range between a few hundred miles and geosynchronous that's all-but-empty because the orbits aren't all that useful.

      • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @02:56PM (#40987723) Journal

        I can't imagine that this $400 "satellite" has a propulsion system of any kind. It will deorbit in months if not weeks

        If you need a propulsion system to stay in orbit, you're not really in orbit.

        • by mk1004 ( 2488060 )
          No, if you're in a low enough orbit, atmospheric drag will de-orbit any satellite within some reasonable period of time; years or decades. The ISS and the previous space station both periodically does/did correction burns to return them to their target altitude. At the other end of the scale, IIRC, the moon is so far out that it actually gains enough energy from the Earth to move away several inches per year. The Earth's rotation slows as a result of this. Atmospheric drag near geosynchronous orbit or furth
      • No space junk has a propulsion system. That's exactly what makes it space junk: You cannot control its orbit.

      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

        Oh come on. I can't imagine that this $400 "satellite" has a propulsion system of any kind. It will deorbit in months if not weeks, and burn up on reentry in to the atmosphere. This satellite isn't going to be space junk.

        Assuming it stays in 1 piece (not a safe assumption). All it takes is some collisions with other space junk to start ripping parts off which can take longer to deorbit and contribute to the ever growing pile of junk circling the planet.

        The few months it's up there are a few months of it abl

      • The bigger issue is the waste of society's resources for such an endeavor. The artist is in fact griefing. Heck, a few thousand pages of selected primary school student's letters to aliens would be a better use for society.

    • by kav2k ( 1545689 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @01:44PM (#40986607)

      Target and do what? Blast into thousands of less trackable but no less dangerous fragments?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Use it to test out a laser broom [wikipedia.org].

        • You got $900,000,000.00 to pay for it? That article you linked said it was 500m in 1990. It's a good idea, until you get to the paying for it part.
          • by TheCarp ( 96830 )

            Yah but thats a government estimate. The people who would happily spend $10 million to build the same $400 satelite this artist built. I bet you if they took 1/10th of that money and made it a prize pool for whoever builds one first.... the prize will be a tidy profit to whoever does.

          • by Jeng ( 926980 )

            They could make it much cheaper if it was in orbit and didn't have to burn though the atmosphere to reach it's target.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Hopefully its on a relatively short-lived orbit. Either way, it's still a pretty fucking stupid idea.

    • I always assumed that CubeSats and TubeSats would just fall and burn up since they don't have propulsion to keep them up and moving.

      IOS says cubesats will fall and burn up after several weeks. http://interorbital.com/CubeSat_1.htm [interorbital.com]

      Though I suppose they could be ejected at greater distances.

    • Unfortunately, we don't have any weapons that would make it simply not exist, only ones that would break it into lots of small, harder to deal with pieces. Better to target the "artist".
    • Art for the sake of Art, is an other way to say, I get paid to make crap (sometime literacy).
      Art to be visually appealing sure,
      Art to express an idea or view point that is good too.

      But art that isn't appealing when asked what does it mean, you get some vague answer like what do you think it means or it is art for art. That is just being lame.

      • Building temples, digging holes and filling them in again, manufacturing piles of boots and then burning them ...
    • I was expecting more enthusiasm from the denizens of slashdot.
      I mean, this is exactly the kind of mindset we want people to have. Taking random stuff and putting it together to create fancy objects. Tinkering for the sake of tinkering. This guy is so much better than those artists who create some successful album then spend all their earnings on cars, girls and coke.
      If I was the guy launching it I would probably have thought a little more of the on-orbit-then-what part. But this is still very good news, an
      • by BMOC ( 2478408 )
        Space programs have to dodge (read: spend energy/propulsion/man-hours to avoid) space junk on a regular basis. This is a very real, very present-day, very expensive situation. It doesn't need to be made worse with stupidity.
  • Art? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @01:25PM (#40986383)

    Isn't this the equivalent of putting together a non-running car out of scrap and then pushing it into the middle of the interstate and calling it 'art'?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Stop giving the artists ideas.

    • Re:Art? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by CaptainLard ( 1902452 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @01:48PM (#40986663)
      No, its the equivalent of building a RUNNING car from scrap, driving it on the interstate, and letting anyone control the lights from the internet. Sounds lame until you replace "driving it on the interstate" with "launching into earth orbit".
    • Or taking ten cars and burying them nose first in the desert & calling it "art". Hey I'm going to take my collection of VCRs and lay them in the front yard. Buried sideways! Come see my new art project.

    • by Yaa 101 ( 664725 )

      And then people say that we in the west are decadent...

    • Except, the widest interstates are only a couple of hundred feet wide (say 200 meters) and traveled by thousands of vehicles per hour.

      This satellite is going into three dimensional space above 500 million square kilometers, on a budget launch that will likely de-orbit faster than Sputnik, and even with "all the junk up there," there are less than 100 launches per year.

      If you want to complain about something relevant, complain about idiots that fire pistols into the air on New Year's Day, sure, a falling bul

    • Well that's better than having the rusty auto in your front yard and calling it art.

  • Litterbug (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @01:26PM (#40986387)

    Littering near earth orbit as a side effect of doing something useful is problematic. Littering near earth orbit intentionally and for no purpose is pretty antisocial.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    What's a cum satellite? It sounds disgusting.

  • what it does (Score:5, Informative)

    by PTBarnum ( 233319 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @01:35PM (#40986483)

    Apparently people will be able to upload messages to be flashed in Morse code by LEDs on the satellite. So it actually does do something. I'm skeptical about how easy it will be to see the LEDs from Earth, though.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      maybe one of you guys will hack it to propose to your geek girlfriend via morse code.

    • Yeah, the wording of the summary needs help and TFA doesn't bring it up until the last paragraph.

      It's "scientifically" useless but still a pretty neat idea

    • Oh, it'll be visible all right. He's using scavenged consumer electronics. There's bound to be some sears-your-eyeballs blue LEDs in there.

    • by TheSync ( 5291 )

      Here are some "typical" luminously intense LEDs, 45 candela [superbrightleds.com] requiring 3.4W. Typical LEO is 200km. lux=candela/(distance^2) = 1.125e-9. Magnitude = -2.5 * log(lux) - 14.2 = 8.17

      Generally stars with magnitude > 7 are not considered visible.

      Compare with Sirius, at m = -1.6, gives 9.2e-6 lux.

      If you gang together a bunch of those 45 candela LEDs, you might have something. Magnitude 7 is reached at three of them. 10 of them would get you magnitude 5.6, around the magnitude of the spiral galaxy M33 (used a

      • by jfengel ( 409917 )

        Interesting analysis. Thanks.

        I don't think you're going to get long at 60W. A good LiIon battery might give you 600 kJ/kg. If he gets to put up one kilogram, he'll get about three hours out of it, and that's a really optimistic estimate.

  • Most artists, when something as dull as that, just dissasemble it/store it in the basement.

    No need to use a space rocket to dispose of it.

  • by frovingslosh ( 582462 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @01:40PM (#40986547)
    It is certainly important to let and fund anyone who wants to call their self an "artist" to put junk into orbit. And far better to let this jerk, I mean artist, use the funds and the launch space to feel good about himself than to actually put micro-sats or other useful technology into space. After all, they are only designed and built by mere scientists, not artists.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Yeah someone should tell this guy that space is only for the defense industry, telecoms, and maybe tiny bit o' NASA. If more people start doing crap like this its just going to lead to expanded launch capacities and a whole new range of non-techie types getting interested in space. Only a jerk would try to put a satellite in orbit that conceivably anyone can use. /(sarcasm and assuming decaying orbit or other space junk mitigation)
    • It is certainly important to let and fund anyone who wants to call their self an "artist" to put junk into orbit. And far better to let this jerk, I mean artist, use the funds and the launch space to feel good about himself than to actually put micro-sats or other useful technology into space.

      He didn't use your money, or any government funding, or force anyone to donate who didn't want to. Who are you to dictate how others choose to spend their resources?

      • Because space junk in lower orbits is a real problem. You get too much useless debris in space flying around the earth at thousands of miles an hour without known locations, you can't launch and get off this rock because launching a shuttle is like crossing the jersey turnpike during rush hour.

  • by chebucto ( 992517 ) * on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @01:42PM (#40986565) Homepage

    Why not take an empty canvas and put it on the wall? Or drive around for half a day collecting random crap, then toss it all in a public square - call it a sculpture and a 'statement'.

    Funny [theonion.com]

    In all seriousness, there really should be a different word for these pomo conceptual people. Art has to have _some_ beauty in it, doesn't it? It _has_ to require talent beyond the everyday, doesn't it?

    We should be able to expand art beyond renaissance-era landscapes and portraits using oil-on-canvas without debasing the term 'art' to cover everything. It make the term useless, just like some people are doing to hacking: ever since everything requiring the smallest modicum of... time? became hacking, every douchebag with time on his hands has felt welcome at HOPE, but at the same time a unique group has been diluted to nothing: something has been lost.

    • It _has_ to require talent beyond the everyday, doesn't it?

      How many transceivers have YOU built from spare parts that are capable of receiving a message in orbit? Sure these days its probably not that difficult for a EE but its still not something you see everyday.

      • That's find for this guy, but what about the vast swath of conceptual artists that produce technically dead-simple works - hanging sheets in odd ways, scrap metal randomly arranged, etc.

        • Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, friend. I'd imagine that those scrap metalers have some idea what they are trying to do and some people might think the design is cool or even feel emotions other than apathy. It takes quite a bit of work to see a vision through to completion, even if it is just covering a huge canvas in blue paint and putting a dot in the middle. But they can't all be winners. Plus, you get the last laugh because "starving artist" is a term based on reality.
    • by AvitarX ( 172628 )

      I can't tell where the satire and seriousness of your post is.

      The onion cartoons are parodies of cartoons, you can tell because art grants are not budget crippling.

      • The satire is in the link labeled 'Funny'. And in the (hopefully clearly) ridiculous suggestion just above it.

        The serious part comes after the words "In all seriousness".


        • by AvitarX ( 172628 )


          My reading of the cartoon is that the modern art is valid artistic expression though, seemingly contrary to your suggestion, thus the confusion.

          • I linked to the cartoon because it gave a comically exaggerated vision of the non-artist artist. I agree with your reading of it, and indeed agree with the cartoon - art should be funded, it doesn't cost much, and not all non-traditional artists are 'sickos' that use odd materials to create their works.

            Honestly, I'm confused about the subject as well - it's impossible to draw a clear line between what is and isn't 'art'. It really is true that some things take time to be accepted and understood by the gener

            • by AvitarX ( 172628 )

              I think motivation has a lot to do with this.

              I actually think sending a worthless thing into space could be a great comment on the waste of space programs for example (not one i agree with, but a very valid way to express it through artistic expression).

              If it's grandstanding for attention, then it's really no more artistic than throwing a tantrum.

              By those standards though, most of art throughout history isn't particularly artistic (often times being a substitute for what I snap with my camera when visiting

    • It _has_ to require talent beyond the everyday, doesn't it?

      Says who? Jackson Pollock was regularly derided for doing abstract work that people claimed their children could do better. Pollock's works sell in the millions when they sell.

      Any Warhol painted soup cans.

      Art is in the eye of the beholder, and is almost entirely subjective. People who try to define what constitutes are are mostly missing the point -- you don't have to like it, get it, appreciate it, or respect it. There is no uniform definition

      • If what you and I - and everyone else - thinks constitutes 'art' is irrelevant, then 'art' has no meaning.

        Going by your examples, 'art' is something that (a) is called art, and (b) sells.

        My feeling is that Pollock, Warhol, and the merda d'artista will all fairly soon lose all pretense of being art. If you dropped any of them in front of someone from 1,000 years ago or 1,000 years from now - someone who didn't know the context - they would think it was a random mess, a simple reproduction, or disgusting. Com

        • Going by your examples, 'art' is something that (a) is called art, and (b) sells.

          That's exactly what I'm saying, with the proviso that it doesn't actually have to sell (but selling it might help get it called art). There truly is no objective standard for what constitutes art that holds up to much. Hell, some art never gets seen by others, or is transitory in nature, or is just plain weird -- like Yoko Ono or Andy Kaufman. ;-)

          If you dropped any of them in front of someone from 1,000 years ago or 1,000 yea

          • Hell, I could probably put a butt-plug on a pedestal with a picture of Lindsey Lohan on it, and call it social commentary about how we have pop culture rammed up our asses. Someone would laugh at it, thereby validating it as art. ;-)

            I'd call it art. But i dont think people should pay $10k for it, nor does it belong in a museum.

            And following on. does the entire icanhascheezeburger network of websites count as art in your mind?
            Can an artist make something & never show it, and have it still considered art? (can the status of something as art be bestowed in absentia of the article itself?)

            • I'd call it art. But i dont think people should pay $10k for it, nor does it belong in a museum.

              Now there's an understatement, but if you go to a modern art museum, you might be surprised at some of the stuff you see -- some of it is creepy, some of it just plain bizarre, and some you're not really sure it's art (I once saw a piece that was the caution wet floor sign and a mop and bucket -- took me several minutes to realize it was being placed out as art).

              And following on. does the entire icanhascheezeburg

        • Dang if you don't sound exactly like my grandmother complaining about those no-talent Beatles and any jazz artist younger than Artie Shaw.

          I doubt that there is any such thing as "intrinsic" beauty and art devoid of cultural context. Art is one of the things that defines a culture. Due to the hegemony of classic Western ideals, most people are familiar with the conventions of representational art as practiced by the ancient Greek and Roman sculptors and the painters of the Renaissance and Enlightenment, so

    • I think your quote is quite apropos in this case.

      Art is simply creation; anything created with an intent to capture a feeling, or a moment, or perform a feat, or any other "stamp" on existence is "art". That said, art that is typically considered "good" is aesthetic, evokes emotion, and makes a statement. There are, of course, many ideas on what makes art "good", but artistic creations are the ultimate form of "if you don't like it, don't view it."

      Lastly, you can get into realms where things are off
      • I think you do a good job of enunciating the current definition of art: creation with intent to capture feeling. And the distinction between simple art and 'good art' is one I'd be happy with. Defining what's good and isn't is still a challenge, but in the end there has to be a value judgement placing, say, Monet's works above a single-coloured canvas.

        By this definition, all works of art are intrinsically defensible in that the individuals have a right to creativity ('speech'). But, all works of art are not

    • Some art is bad. Doesn't make it not art.

      I understand that many people don't like projects like this. That's fine. Others might disagree. But no matter what—there's no reason to insult the entire discipline because you don't like one project.

      As an artist whose work is very different than this, I still can't help but be disgusted every time I see someone talking about "artists" in quotes, or with an extra "e" on the end (as they do elsewhere in this discussion), or making silly comments about blank can

      • Some art is very bad: merda d'artista, or the dadist urinal, for example. Blank canvases of a sort do exist [moma.org]. They are a trope because they exemplify negative aspects of conceptual art.

        It is one thing if you think 'art' should be defined broadly, as "act of creativity" or something similar: but you must accept, with that broad definition, a dilution of esteem, and jokes at your expense. Cans of shit? We are expected to keep a straight face? Correct me if I'm wrong, but a lot of the works like medra wer made

        • Cans of shit? We are expected to keep a straight face?

          What does keeping a straight face have to do with art?

          Please don't try to educate me about conceptual art. Maybe instead of telling us about your magic power to determine what art is objectively the best, you should educate yourself about why many people who love art disagree with you.

          • What does keeping a straight face have to do with art? Nothing, unless the goal of the artist wasn't comedy.

            I apologize if it appeared I was trying to lecture you. My only goal was to converse. I don't claim any magic powers to determine what is objectively the best; I only propose that not everything that is called art is art, and that adopting such a position devalues the term.

  • I don't know much about art but the idea of someone launching random street junk into space as a "satellite" made me laugh, and I think a big part of art is about provoking a reaction.

  • Shouldn't it be Korean Artist [to Launch]Intentionally Useless Satellite

  • Too bad we can't put an actual functional amateur satellite up with that launch fee. It's weird that he even made it look like a real satellite. Why not actually put a real satellite up or at least some crazy fantasy design (that's no ping pong ball!).

    • by Anonymous Coward

      amateur radio people have been putting satellites in space for years.

      this slashdot article is extremely misleading. even worse than usual.

      the satellite is functional, it does something. not very much, but it's not just space junk.

      in 2012, Slashdot FUDs YOU.

  • is getting it into orbit for that little.
  • You had parents who would lay out $100K just so you can do an attention-getting stunt?

  • ...will smile when Debris Section burns this piece of garbage in the atmosphere.
  • when I was in school, one day in English class we were handed a sheet of paper to write or draw anything we wanted to be sent up to orbit in a space time capsule. I thought it seemed like a bad idea to put things in orbit that don't need to be there, so I drew a picture of Earth with a bunch of garbage cans, garbage bags, and debris floating around it. I wish I could see that picture I drew. Google helped me determine the program was called SpaceArc and the messages were carried to orbit on tape in the D

  • This is a bargain as far as useless satellites go.

    At only $100,400, it's about six orders of magnitude cheaper than the International Space Station.

  • This isn't that different from Ardusat, just different branding. Neither is actually useful, but one is branded as "art" while the other is branded as "educational".
  • by denzacar ( 181829 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @02:48PM (#40987613) Journal

    I am really, really trying to find some kind of justification for this "art" project and I'm coming up with bupkis.
    OK... It does nothing scientific. But it does nothing artistic either.
    It's about as artistic as painting a rock and dumping in the Marianas Trench.
    For something to be considered art, it has to be able to communicate to other humans a message beyond just its own physical existence.

    This satellite is supposed to send messages transmitted to it by blinking its LEDs and "People will be able to see the blinking lights with the naked eye or through a telescope".
    Visible from the Earth's surface. With naked eye. LEDs. A 10x10x10 cm cube. Hanging in low Earth orbit. 600-2000 km from the surface. Right.

    I can't really be bothered to look it up, but something tells me that you can't really see a 10 cm cube, 600-2000 km away, with an amateur telescope.
    Besides, shouldn't Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IADC) [esa.int] "ground" this project?

    Also, WTF is "Science is Fantasy" supposed to mean?
    That science is unattainable and/or imaginary? Not real? With no real function or application?
    Just dumping that "is" and it would make SOME sense. Or reversing the order of words in the sentence.
    This... this is just half-thought through crap.

    All I see here is rich, privileged parents, buying their rich, privileged, spoiled kid his 15 minutes of fame since he can't get there with his own effort and talent.

    • Hey, it's the first attempt at space art. Weird as it might be, as long as it won't be in permanent orbit, give the guy his little fantasy.

      • Well, it actually isn't the first attempt at space art. [wikipedia.org]
        And it is probably not going to make things much worse as far as the space junk issue is concerned.

        Anyway, I am not about to call to a jihad against him and his pretty unimaginative project, which is more of a publicity stunt than anything else.
        But I do reserve my right to call the spade a spade - or in this case, junk and a lame attempt at fame.

  • Link at the bottom of TFA: http://inhabitat.com/nasa-solar-powered-micro-satellite-will-clean-space-debris/ [inhabitat.com]

    Also, I initially was thinking how it was kind of cool that he was able to build a satellite that he actually intends to launch, even if it's not especially useful. C'mon, how many of us started coding with "Hello World" programs? IMHO, this is kind of like that.

    Then I RTFA'd (don't revoke my /. membership card!). Maybe it's just the author's tone and Song really is a cool guy, but i
  • by Sentrion ( 964745 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @03:01PM (#40987797)

    I have an even better art project. Find some POS art project that is a total waste of time and money, steal it, and smash it to pieces as performance art before it gets off the ground. Then I'll post the footage on youtube and let viewers try to decide what message I was trying to convey in my performance.

    Seriously, this kind of crap is why I have much disdain for avant-garde, modern, and 'contemporary' art. In general, most of these types of artists tend to be on the far left of the political spectrum (which is ok, but...), they denounce poverty, pollution, and destruction of our environment. But how much destruction is from paint chemicals leaking into ground water? How many starving or improvrished people could be rescued from the grants paid to these "inspiring" artists? How many HFH homes could have been built with the labor and talent of our academic and intellectual leaders of the art world? I don't want to deny them their fun, and I don't know the political views of this artist, but I think we have all seen what I have described.

    As non-artists, non-academics, and non-elites we have been conditioned to believe that we just don't have the intellectual capacity to understand the significance and importance of their great work. All told, most of the "new" art movements from the past 150 years have been a byproduct of delusional, paranoid schizophrenia or other mental illnesses. When crazy people connect with other crazy people, finding someone with the same delusions reinforces their belief that they do not have a mental illness but some profound insight into the nature of the Universe. So we have today an oligarchy of mentally ill cultural elites to whom the rest of the masses aim to aspire to in their aesthetic endeavors, not much unlike the inbred aristocracy that was convinced that they were owed special status in life due to their pedigree. Fortunately a few revolutions (France, America) eventually forced the aristocrats to take a back seat to productive citizens who now set their own destiny, banishing royal life to the back pages of gossip tabloids, somewhere behind part-cow/part-alien boy and the ghost of Michael Jackson. It would be nice one day to see mainstream non-art academics, financiers and art endowments wake up to a revolution of their own to refer these jokers to a different "institution".

  • by Bert64 ( 520050 ) <bert@slashdot. f i r e n z e e.com> on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @03:10PM (#40987923) Homepage

    Great, just what we need, another piece of junk orbiting the planet and causing a hazard to other space missions.

  • The Russians had this idea first!

The party adjourned to a hot tub, yes. Fully clothed, I might add. -- IBM employee, testifying in California State Supreme Court