The Fastest Art In The World – An Art Mission To The ISS

Paintings by well-known American artists Richard Schmid and Nancy Guzik were successfully delivered to the International Space Station (ISS) on Dec 9th 2015 by the Cygnus spacecraft.

As part of a joint science/art mission which included a science experiment from students at Valley Christian High School in San Jose, CA, Richard and Nancy’s art is now orbiting the planet every 93 minutes!

An earlier attempt to send their art (and that of Richard’s granddaughter, Samantha) to the ISS failed when the Falcon 9 supply rocket carrying the artwork exploded shortly before achieving orbit. Undaunted, Richard and Nancy made a new set of paintings for this successful second attempt.

Richard expressed his thanks for this achievement to James Nadir, a Silicon Valley engineer who retired from Intel and now mentors students in the Valley Christian High School ISS program. An artist himself, Jim had invited Richard, Nancy and Samantha to create art to accompany his students’ science experiment on its voyage to the ISS. Breathing a sigh of relief at this successful second attempt, Jim remarked, “So it’s now OK to say Richard Schmid and Nancy Guzik have the fastest art in the world!”

Commenting on the mission, Jim said, “What is important is not only that their art is orbiting our planet, but they also have dedicated it to the bright young people who get themselves involved in the arts and sciences. There is a real world out there waiting, filled with beauty and wonder, which can only be experienced by being part of it”. James’s son Andy, whose experiment was aboard the ill-fated Falcon 9, said, “We knew there was risk whenever you put something on top of 500 tons of explosive force. The real value, however, was the learning, the teamwork, and the engineering, and that was not lost”. To hear the high school students talking about their lost ISS experiments visit: and search ISS.

The Valley Christian High School ISS program, which is open to all schools, currently has students from around the world including Finland to Indonesia, participating to fly their experiments on the ISS. Although Richard’s granddaughter was unable to join in this second attempt, on December 6 the experiments and the new artworks by Nancy and Richard were successfully launched aboard an Atlas V rocket carrying Orbital Science’s Cygnus spacecraft. The Cygnus spacecraft rendezvoused with the ISS on December 9, and was pulled in by the robotic arm. The experiments, along with the art, are now orbiting Earth every 93 minutes. This art/science wonder is expected to circle the earth 330 times at a speed of 17,500 mph, at an altitude of 221 miles, for a total distance travelled of 9 million miles. If the mission is extended, it could cover as many as 25 million miles.

Fig.1 left to right:
1. Richard and Nancy’s artwork, along with the student’s experiments, arriving at the ISS. (The Cygnus spacecraft is about to be pulled in by the robotic arm, now in orbit).

2. “Star Gazer”, watercolor by Nancy Guzik. Painting being placed in the young scientist’s experiment; the artwork is protected in glassine envelopes sealed with waterproof tape.

3. “Santa Maria II” watercolor by Richard Schmid.

4. Nancy painting in her studio.

Fig.2 Richard painting in his studio

Images thanks: to Daniel J. Keys, Richard Schmid and Nancy Guzik. Special credit to Valley Christian High School, San Jose, CA. (For more info about the program, contact Werner Vavken at [email protected]).