Record-setting former NASA astronaut Scott Kelly has memorialized his time in space via art.
Kelly, who spent 340 consecutive days aboard the International Space Station in 2015 and 2016, just launched his first-ever NFT, an art project called "Dreams Out of This World." He hopes the offering inspires people to reach for the stars, as an iconic book inspired him long ago.
"My story is not the typical astronaut story. I was a bad student growing up — didn't do well in school, kind of a daydreamer," Kelly told Space.com.
"I found inspiration in a book, which is Tom Wolfe's 'The Right Stuff,'" he added. "So I really, really believe in this idea that inspiration, done in the right way for the right person at the right time, can have extraordinary results."
NFTs (non-fungible tokens) are pieces of data, stored in a digital ledger called a blockchain, that represent unique assets. NFTs are part of the emerging digital world known as the metaverse, and Kelly hopes "Dreams Out of This World" helps introduce people to this somewhat confusing new realm.
"I think the metaverse and crypto[currency] and blockchain will be a big part of our future," he said. "So it seemed like the right time for me to get involved."
The "Dreams Out of This World" drop is a collaboration with the content creation studio Orange Comet. It consists of a series of pieces showing Kelly in space, with a variously reimagined Earth in the background. Those pieces went on auction today (April 12) — the International Day of Human Spaceflight, which celebrates cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin's historic 1961 orbital mission — along with some of Kelly's spaceflight memorabilia.
The auction was scheduled to continue for three days, on the NFT marketplace OpenSea. But the entire collection sold out in just a few hours, raising more than $500,000
"I'm proud to announce that my NFT collection is officially sold out on @opensea
Thank you to everyone who supported this project! In the midst of this war, it's amazing that we can come together through art to aid the people of Ukraine. Over $500,000.00 raised today!" Kelly tweeted today.
You can learn more, and see the pieces, here.
All of the net proceeds from this initial drop will go to the Ukraine efforts of the Global Empowerment Mission (GEM), a nonprofit organization that helps disaster-stricken nations and communities.
"We are here to help in the midst of extreme disaster and crisis, and GEM is so appreciative of each and every effort that comes in to support the mission," GEM president and founder Michael Capponi said in a statement.
"Every donation, creative endeavor, organization and partner plays a huge role in the sustained success of the longstanding relief efforts we are able to provide as a non-governmental organization, and we thank Scott and team for their gracious donation and creative efforts to support and provide aid," Capponi added.
This funding detail shouldn't come as a shock; Kelly has been a vocal opponent of Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine, condemning it repeatedly and in the strongest possible terms. And one of the new "Dreams Out of This World" pieces shows Ukraine's famous blue-and-yellow flag rising high off Earth.
"Putin’s war crimes and the Russian people’s support or indifference of them has doomed Russia to a very bleak future," Kelly tweeted, in both Russian and English, on April 5.
Kelly no longer holds the American record for the longest continuous human spaceflight, by the way. NASA's Mark Vande Hei broke it recently, coming home on March 30 after a 355-day stay aboard the space station.
But Kelly is far from bitter about losing the top spot.
"I think it's great, because it shows that we're making progress," he said. "Records are made to be broken. So I'm really happy to see Mark do it, and I'm sure someone someday will break his record as well."
Mike Wall is the author of "Out There" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or on Facebook.