Last year, “plant artist” Azuma Makoto and a team of collaborators created Exobiotanica – Botanical Space Flight, sending a bonsai tree and some floral arrangements to the stratosphere using space balloons. Azuma and his team executed the launch last July in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, reaching an altitude of some 30,000 meters (or just under 19 miles). Azuma offers this poetic mission statement for the launch:
Plants on the earth are rooted in the soil, under the command of gravity.
Roots, soil, and gravity–by giving up the links to life, what kind of “beauty” shall be born?
Within the harsh “nature” of an attitude of 30,000 meters and minus 50 degrees Celsius, the plants evolve into EXBIOTA (extraterrestrial life).
A pine tree confronting the ridge line of the Earth.
A bouquet of flowers marching towards the sun, hit by the intense wind.
Freed from everything, the plants shall head to space.
You can see more photos of the balloon rigs they used, the launch, and the… “plants in SPAAAAAAACE” on the project’s website.