Speculative Satellite Designs

Summer 2013 | Work done for Trevor Paglen

In designing early Soviet satellites, the engineers heavily referenced deep-sea diving equipment: lacking existing data on the conditions in outer space, the depths of the ocean were chosen to represent a comparable external environment.

Satellites as objects have a rich history, laden with political and social connotations. I generated a number of concept designs for satellites engaging with their history, and looking critically at their interactions. Unlike some of the other work I did for Trevor Paglen's studio, these pieces were mockups for potential gallery objects, intended to provoke conversation, not to be launched.

Satellites rarely engage one another in physical dialogue: a set of bright reflective objects launched as a swarm puts these frisbee-sats into visual physical dialogue.

For any of these concepts sats to be theoretically visible from the grond, and thus meaningful to the oberver, they must be able to expand once in orbit. I made an investigation into folding mechanisms--often used functionally for solar-panel deployment--as a way to expand large planar sheets of silvered mylar.