Apollo 11 Mission Transcript Merged With Moon Photo By Celebrity Astrophotographer In Tribute To Astronaut Michael Collins

A Finnish astrophotographer was so moved by the death of former Apollo 11 astronaut, Michael Collins, that he set out to create a most unique tribute.

Jukka-Pekka Metsavainio, who is known as J-P, was thrilled to have his work publicly praised by Collins on Twitter, but when the pioneering astronaut died just nine days later J-P decided to work non-stop to create a memorial artwork in his memory.

J-P is one of only a few visual artists who dedicate their talents to outer worldly scenes – and having created a highly detailed image of the moon almost 20 years earlier, he merged the image with a downloaded transcript of conversations from the Apollo 11 mission to honour Collins.

Picture is the final memorial artwork by J-P titled The Voices of Apollo 11. (J-P Metsavainio/Real Press)

“This is my way to handle emotional situations as an artist,” said J-P. “I don’t exactly know how my head is working, but many times in situations like that I have got flash like ideas and I need to do them right away.”

Collins died of cancer at the age of 90 on April 28, 2021 and within hours of hearing the news, J-P had found his inspiration and set to work.

“I started to work just couple of hours after I got the sad message,” said J-P. “I downloaded NASA’s original full transcript of Apollo 11’s onboard voice conversations. The idea was to turn this text into an image of the moon.

Picture is a close up of J-P’s memorial artwork showing some of the transcript text he used and featuring two characters in red to pinpoint the Apollo 11 moon landing site. (J-P Metsavainio/Real Press)

“Now the moon is made up entirely of Apollo 11 voice transcription letters.”

Now J-P hopes his tribute to Collins will help inspire future generations of astro explorers: “I have plans to sell this as an NFT and donate money to some space related project with children.

“They are going to be the future generation of astronauts and explorers,” he added.

Picture is a close up of J-P’s memorial artwork showing some of the transcript text he used. (J-P Metsavainio/Real Press)

The Apollo 11 mission holds a special place in J-P’s heart: “It was a massive cultural and scientific achievement and a turning point for the whole of humanity on how we see the universe around us and our position in it.

“Michael Collins was affectionately referred to as ‘the loneliest man in history’ for being the command module pilot who flew solo in space behind the moon and without radio contact with anyone while his colleagues, Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong, set foot on the moon for the first time in history.

“Michael was also an artist. His iconic photos made from the moon orbit are true art and part of mankind’s greatest cultural heritage treasure.”

Picture is the tweet from Michael Collins on April 9, 2021 – only nine days before he died. (Real Press)

J-P found himself experiencing a similar sense of solitude to what he imagined Colins had during his solo flight. He feels that the lonely hours he has spent doing astronomical photography is the reason for this.

“I was deeply emotional throughout my creative process for this artwork,” said J-P. “Even though I never met him personally, the end of his earthly mission meant more to me than I was prepared for.

“I needed to make this photo-based artwork to process the inner storm of my thoughts and feelings.”

Picture is the original 20-year-old mosaic of the moon by J-P that he used as the basis to his memorial artwork for Michael Collins. (J-P Metsavainio/Real Press)

The final image uses the NASA transcripts to replicate the light and dark of the original greyscale mosaic of the moon that J-P made using about 60 individual shots. The only colour that the astronomical artist added was two red characters to mark the Apollo 11 landing site.

To further illustrate his final artwork, J-P created a short video featuring a recording from the moon landing mission and the Frank Sinatra song Fly Me to the Moon, which he purchased reproduction rights to so he could incorporate the song that the crew played to themselves just before the famous landing.

Michael Collins flew two space missions in his career, culminating in the pioneering Apollo 11 mission. He orbited the moon 30 times while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the surface, leaving him alone to ensure their space craft remained safe. He was the fourth person to perform a spacewalk, and the first to do so more than once.

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