The International Space Station is about to get an onboard art gallery and museum — sort of.
As part of a freshly-inked agreement with NASA, a startup called Uplift Aerospace is planning to send all kinds of precious items — from pieces of visual art to precious gems and artifacts that would normally live in museums — to the ISS starting this year.
The venture is a bid to “establish commerce in space,” as the company put it in a press release.
Many of the items featured in a roughly locker-sized vault, which will range from rare coins and fancy jewelry to “soft goods” meant for space travelers on board the station, will be put on sale. Others will be destined for museums after they get back to Earth.
You’re not wrong if you think this sounds both lofty and complicated. In an interview with space artifacts publication collectSPACE, Uplift Aerospace CEO and president Josh Hanes admitted that the company hasn’t quite worked out the logistics of getting these goods to the ISS in the second half of this year.
“The idea is that we’ll be able to showcase the items while they are on the space station,” Hanes told the website, “but we’re still developing the exact process of how that will be done.”
Because nothing can happen these days without some connection to the blockchain, there will be a non-fungible token (NFT) aspect to the vault — though in this case, the NFTs will act as membership cards for Uplift’s “Space+” community where they can access “real-life space experiences,” as collectSPACE put it.
“Currently, NFTs do not have a lot of utility in the physical world,” Hanes told the publication. “We’re trying to build that into them.”
Those who buy Uplift’s NFTs at a purportedly low price point will, according to the CEO, ultimately be able to enter giveaways for space flights or items destined for the vault. In the nearer term, they’ll get to attend Space+ talks and get small items from the ISS such as mission patches.
Though the NFT bit does come off as a bit wonky, it nevertheless is a lot more tangible — and, frankly, cooler — than buying expensive computer-generated JPGs of apes.
“The reason why we, as a company, have decided to create an NFT platform is because we truly believe that there is utility in NFTs and cryptocurrency in space applications for the long term,” Hanes told collectSPACE. “Our purpose in the long term is to facilitate commerce. We think it is a good infrastructural system for commerce between space and Earth.”
And, unlike pedestrian digital goods like virtual Metaverse land plots or NFTs for jars of farts, at least this one involves a vault on the freakin’ International Space Station.