Inspired by the story of NASA astronaut Piers Sellers who dropped his spatula over the side of a space shuttle into deep space (while on a space walk testing repair tools), filmmaker Cath Le Couteur made Project Adrift– a multi-platform exploration of space junk.
One element of the project is a short film, ADRIFT, Le Couteur directed and produced which is narrated from the perspective of a solar-powered satellite launched into space in 1958, that is now defunct. The voice is lonely, and quiet, but is in fact in the company of over a trillion pieces of other debris in space. Some of the debris burns up in Earth’s atmosphere, some lands in the ocean, and some collides with each other, satellites, and rocket ships. Sally Potter, who directed ORLANDO, GINGER & ROSA, and eight more feature films, is the voice. The satellite is named Vanguard.
Two other pieces of space junk accompany Vanguard on Le Couteur’s platform. There is the shrapnel named Fengyun, and a space suit named Suitsat. All three have dedicated Twitter accounts which will send live status updates to followers.
Le Couteur made ADRIFT in collaboration with sound designer Nick Ryan. The third element of the project is a machine Ryan built to respond with sound to pieces of space debris passing overhead in real time.
Cath Le Couteur is co-founder of the online filmmaker’s collective Shooting People. She received Sloan support in 2010 through the Sundance Institute for her feature film script BED, about a group of people in a bed-rest experiment that may help astronauts.