The National Air and Space Museum welcomes artist Paul van Hoeydonck, (pronounced “HOY-dunk”), a Belgian sculptor and the creator of the only piece of fine art currently on another world, Fallen Astronaut.
Before the Apollo 15 mission in 1971, NASA astronaut and mission commander Dave Scott met van Hoeydonck in New York City and asked him to create a miniature sculpture that could be left on the Moon. Without any publicity, Fallen Astronaut, a three-inch aluminum figure, was brought along on the mission and left on the Moon, along with a plaque honoring the 17 American and Soviet space travelers who had died to that point in service to human spaceflight. When the existence of the statue was revealed early in 1972, van Hoeydonck donated an exact copy to the Smithsonian Institution. It has been on public display in the Space Race gallery in the Museum in Washington, DC since 2001.
Van Hoeydonck, now 88, is a senior artist of renown, and has been interested in the creation of spaceflight-related art for five decades.
The program will feature a short presentation by an expert on NASA’s art program, followed by an interview-style discussion with van Hoeydonck moderated by Space History curator Margaret Weitekamp. The discussion will be illustrated by some of his work on the projection screens. This program will detail both a history of van Hoeydonck’s work in spaceflight art, and NASA’s ongoing interest in fine arts as they relate to human spaceflight. Van Hoeydonck will take questions from the public in conclusion.