Fallen Astronaut is a small aluminum sculpture representing a stylized astronaut in a space suit. This statue, which measures about 8.5 cm high, is the only work of art on the moon.
The sculpture was created by Belgian artist Paul Van Hoeydonck following his meeting with the team of Apollo 15 (including David Scott) at the beginning of June 1971 This statue has found a post three weeks later when the crew, marked by the deaths of three Russian astronauts, has proposed to NASA to use them to commemorate the name of the dead astronauts and cosmonauts during the exploration of space. A number of instructions were given to the artist: sculpture had to be light, strong, able to withstand extreme variations in temperature on the lunar surface; it was not possible to identify in it a man or a woman, or even any ethnic group. In addition, in accordance with the wishes of Scott, to avoid commercialization of space, the name of Van Hoeydonck would not unveiled.
Fallen Astronaut was deposited on the Moon, on the Mons Hadley, August 1, 1971 by the crew of Apollo 15, near a plaque bearing the names of eight American astronauts and six Soviet cosmonauts. Only the names are written, without reference to nationality. At the time of the completion of the memorial plaque, two other deaths had not yet been released by the Soviet authorities as they traditionally provided little information on their space program: Valentin Bondarenko (March 23, 1961, during the training in the fire of a pressurized vessel) and Grigori Nelioubov (February 18, 1966, run over by a train, suicide or accident). Their name was not written.
As soon as the crew of Apollo 15 had mentioned the statuette during a press conference post-flight, the National Air and Space Museum demanded a copy to display it to the public. The crew accepted on condition that the exhibition was “with good taste and without publicity” (that is to say “tasteful and ad-free”). The replica of Fallen Astronaut was presented by Van Hoeydonck to the museum in April 1972. This replica is now on display with a replica of the plaque.
Translated from Wikipedia