Format 1: 202 x 132 cm / 79.5 x 52 in, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Format 2: 102 x 67 cm / 40.2 x 26.3 in, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Hybrid photography, archival pigment print, aludibond, diasec, custom-made aluminium frame
The Russian Soyuz rocket is now the world's most used space launcher with over 1800 flights since its debut in 1966, far more than any other rocket launcher. More than 60 years ago, the Russian launcher initiated the space race by launching Sputnik, the first satellite placed in orbit, and then by sending the first man into space. Soyuz is a multistage launcher, designed to extremely high reliability levels for use in manned and unmanned missions. Over the decades, the launch vehicle has been through several upgrades. Since the retirement of the American Space Shuttle fleet in 2011, the Soyuz rocket and its spacecraft has been the only launcher capable of flying astronauts and cosmonauts to the International Space Station. In 2005, the European Space Agency and the Russian Federal Space Agency gave final approval for the launching of Soyuz rockets from the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou. Construction of the new pad was completed in April 2011. The Soyuz rocket engines are ignited by electrically initiated pyrotechnic flares a few seconds before fuel components are introduced into the combustion chamber. During the start sequence the support brackets track the movement of the rocket, freeing the way for lift-off when the rocket and the launch facility form a single dynamic system.
The artwork "ignition" visualizes a Soyuz launcher taking off from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana on 5th April 2019. Mission V22 delivered its payload of four communication satellites into orbit. The launch vehicle is 46 meters high and weighs 300 tonnes. The picture captures the rocket at the exact moment it leaves the launch pad. All four boosters are ignited before lift-off to reach full thrust. To capture this unique image, a sound-triggered camera was installed directly on top of the launch tower, a mere 80 meters from the rocket during its critical lift-off phase. No camera has ever been installed before at such close range on a launch pad of the Spaceport. The composition highlights the single interactive dynamic system formed by the launch pad, the support brackets and the rocket itself during the first seconds of ignition and lift-off. The support brackets have just opened to release the rocket, powerful flames illuminate the brackets while the smoke escaping through the flame trench envelops the white shining rocket. Although painted olive green, the rocket turns white during lift-off due to the reaction between liquid oxygen and rocket propellant which covers the vehicle in a layer of ice. The artwork gives a simultaneous contradictory impression of powerful acceleration and motionless standstill: the tremendous pressure, the intense heat and the ear-splitting sound wave are all tangible, yet the rocket itself seems to be frozen, suspended in time and space.