Tech by VICE

A Piece of Space Junk Has The Best, Most Existential Twitter Account

An art project imagines what a piece of space junk would say if it could talk back to Earth, and to other decommissioned satellites in orbit.

by Samantha Cole
Dec 15 2016, 5:15pm

Image: @FengyunAdrift

When the weather satellite Fēngyún-1C stopped being useful in 2007, the Chinese space agency blew it up with a missile. In addition to making a lot of people very nervous about a space arms race, this anti-satellite missile test flung 2,841 bits of debris into the void—the largest garbage-cloud generating event in history.

China's launched 15 of these satellites since 1988. Fēngyún means "wind cloud," which sounds super chill until you see how bitter 1C is imagined to feel about its fate, via an imaginative Twitter account started in June 2016 by Adrift. A UK-based art project founded by Cath Le Couteur and Nick Ryan, Adrift combines social media, videos and audio files to bring some personality to space junk.

"We are not friends," Fēngyún-1C snipes at fellow decommissioned satellite Vanguard in Adrift's short documentary. "I am a killer... We are the weather you need to watch." Major shots fired.

Project Adrift also imagines how the debris would speak to us on Earth, if it could use social media, through the account @FengyunAdrift.

It considers the weather satellite and the missile its parents, its siblings the nearly 3,000 pieces of metal blasted from that collision.

Tweeting at @FengyunAdrift starts a conversation with mostly bot-like responses, but expect a dramatic response if you decide to leave the conversation:


Eventually, bits and pieces from the blast will fall from space and burn up in orbit. This, of course, is cause for the most LiveJournal tears-on-the-keyboard tweet from Fēngyún:

Project Adrift's personification of Fēngyún and Vanguard is dark and speculative, but if you're into emo space junk, these are your new heroes.

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