The rock band Kings of Leon are headed to space. Well, sort of. When SpaceX's private Inspiration4 mission lifts off next week, it will carry one of the band's songs and a gallery's worth of digital art to orbit.
The all-civilian spaceflight, which is scheduled to launch from NASA's Kennedy Space Center on Tuesday night(Sept. 14), will carry 51 non-fungible tokens (NFTs), including a never-before-released performance of Kings of Leon's "Time in Disguise."
"Time in Disguise" will get a workout during the mission, becoming the first minted NFT song ever to be played in orbit, Inspiration4 team members said in a statement today (opens in new tab) (Sept. 9). The 50 other NFTs — short for "non-fungible tokens" — are pieces of art created by 50 different artists, they added.
Excited to share a peek into the #Inspiration4 mission payload! See how you can own a piece of history like the first NFT song to go to space from @KingsofLeon and other iconic items, benefiting the life-saving work of @StJude here on earth: https://t.co/OqIBOO2aPT pic.twitter.com/XSGkIbwYRdSeptember 9, 2021
Inspiration4 is a three-day free-flying trip to Earth orbit aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule. (There will be no meetup with the International Space Station.) It was planned and booked by Jared Isaacman, the billionaire founder and CEO of Shift4 Payments. He's commander of the mission, whose other crewmembers are Hayley Arceneaux, Sian Proctor and Chris Sembroski.
Inspiration4 aims to raise $200 million for St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, and the NFTs are part of this plan. They — and many other items flying on the mission, which you can read about here (opens in new tab) — will be auctioned off to support the hospital and its work.
The "Time in Disguise" auction, organized by Yellowheart (opens in new tab), is underway and runs through Sept. 20. The high bid as of this afternoon was $50,000.
"We're honored to participate in this historic journey in an effort to raise money for St. Jude, and we’re sending all our best to the crew of Inspiration4," Kings of Leon said in the same statement.
The auction for the art NFTs will run on the platform of Origin Protocol (opens in new tab), which also minted them. Bids will open at launch on Sept. 14 and close upon Crew Dragon's Atlantic Ocean splashdown on Sept. 17.
The myriad other items Isaacman and his crew are carrying to and from orbit will be auctioned at various times between now and November. You can learn more about these sales here (opens in new tab).
NFTs are pieces of data, stored in a digital ledger called a blockchain, that represent unique assets. NFTs are a burgeoning business in the art world, with some selling recently for millions of dollars (opens in new tab).
A few NFTs have already made it to space. In late July, for example, the companies Nanoracks LLC and Artemis Music Entertainment beamed a piece by artist Micah Johnson called "Why Not Me," as well as a recording of Claude Debussy's piano masterpiece "Clair de Lune," to and from the International Space Station.
Mike Wall is the author of "Out There (opens in new tab)" (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 Facebook.