NASA and SETI Institute

Innovative experiential outreach and education. Founder and director of experiences and space culture department

Since 2011, Dr. Nelly Ben Hayoun- Stépanian is the founder and director of the experiences and space culture department at the SETI Institute and NASA Ames research Center. A department she founded from scratch and which sew the creation of the International Space Orchestra- the world's first orchestra composed uniquely of space scientists and space operators from NASA and the SETI Institute. Since the inception of this department, Dr. Ben Hayoun worked to extends outreach and education activities in terms of scope, scale, public and methods of engagement towards architecture, installations, immersive environments, social systems, performances, experiences, and narratives as events. Dr. Ben Hayoun- Stépanian has since been appointed  Vice-Chair of the IAF (International Astronautical Federation) Technical Committee on the Cultural Utilization of Space (ITACCUS), a member of the IAF Space Education and Outreach Committee (SEOC) and a member of the IAA (International Academy of Astronautics) Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) permanent committee amongst others. She runs the Space Culture session at the International Astronautical Congress, where she works to amplify new and fresh ways to implement outreach and critical thinking into scientific institutions and beyond with members of the public.

TASK/CHALLENGE

To extend outreach and education activities in terms of scope, scale, public and methods of engagement towards architecture, installations, immersive environments, social systems, performances, experiences, and narratives as events. 

To work to amplify new and fresh ways to implement outreach and critical thinking into scientific institutions and beyond with members of the public.

To make complex ideas and science accessible to all members of the public and to bring new audiences to both scientific institutions.

To inspire young generations to pursue space science careers

To support NASA and SETI Institute education department effort

To reach new underrepresented audiences and age-range in space education and outreach

To build on  Ben Hayoun-Stépanian's past work with leading scientists and engineers to devise subversive events and performances (previously in Cern, Super Kamiokande, Baikonur Cosmodrome, Imperial College London, SLAC, etc.).

You can read more about Nelly's projects and department at NASA and the SETI Institute on this link

You can look at the projects developed as a part of the International Space Orchestra, the world's first orchestra of space scientists here.

APPROACH

It achieved this by:

- Proposing a unique and stimulating environment, generating questions, debates and interest in interdisciplinary collaboration.

- Merging science, technology, engineering and mathematics with the universal language of music, Nelly Ben Hayoun Studios brought the excitement and complexity of space exploration to the public through the medium of music in the International Space Orchestra for example.

- Grounding each performance to contemporary and historical NASA research

- Designing musical performance which actively utilize NASA-unique resources (e.g. mission-related content, technical workforce etc.) as a context for activities.

- Showcasing the people behind the institution, sharing the human aspect of each mission as experienced by space operators

- Bringing together a team of internationally renowned collaborators so to bring millions of audiences into the space exploration journey. Each of these collaborators contributed original music to International Space Orchestra's performance/ to name a few, to date the International Space Orchestra has collaborated with  Kid Cudi, Sigur Ros, Savages, Beck, Penguin Cafe‘s Arthur Jeffes, Blur and Gorillaz frontman Damon Albarn, Bobby Womack, Japanese superstar and Otamatone inventor, Maywa Denki and many others.

As a result, the International Space Orchestra is at the forefront of Innovation in the field of Space Science Education and Outreach. By proposing an experiential practice to the field of Education and outreach, it is actively framing new ways to engage the public with space education. Over the past ten years it has developed a track record of successful musical outcomes and demonstrated that it has allowed NASA and SETI Institute scientists to capture new and younger audiences.

OUTPUT

In September 2012, Nelly Ben Hayoun Studios assembled a group of NASA space scientists and astronauts to participate in a musical retelling of the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969. The performance, Ground Control: An Opera in Space, premiered in front of the world’s largest wind tunnel in NASA’s Ames Research Center, with a live performance from BECK. Ground Control: An Opera in Space was recorded at Skywalker Ranch, George Lucas‘ studio, where Star Wars was developed.

In January 2013, the International Space Orchestra feature film had its world premiere at the prestigious Rotterdam International Film Festival where it was acclaimed by the critic as a “masterpiece” (Independent Cinema Office, ICO), a “real achievement” (DOMUS),”as thrilling as watching a rocket launch” and “Spine Tingling” (The Guardian).

In May 2013, the International Space Orchestra performed with American Singer BECK for a sold out show at the San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall. For this performance, they received a standing ovation.

In August 2013, Nelly Ben Hayoun Studios had two Ardusat satellites launched carrying the ISO recordings aboard the H-IIB Launch Vehicle, HTV-4 from Yoshinobu Launch Complex at the Tanegashima Space Centre.

In November 2013, the satellites were released from the International Space Station by the six- member expedition crew. The ISO recordings currently orbit the earth.

In 2015, March; the International Space Orchestra records a special orchestration of punk band The Prodigy’s Breathe with me song for the feature film Disaster Playground (which premiered at SXSW 2015)

In 2015, May 5th, ISO trumpet player BJ Navarro, received pictures from ESA Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti who brought the ISO music Compact Disc to ISS. The pictures show the ISO CD orbiting the earth on board the ISS, experiencing ZERO G inside the Cupola.

In 2015, August, the record of the International Space Station made it back on Earth, on board of the Soyuz rocket! The International Space Orchestra’s record made it to the International Space Station and back. Mission accomplished.

In 2016, the ISO performed two songs Adore Life and Mechanics with rock band Savages at The Fillmore in San Francisco for a sold out show. The most significant musical talent of the day has appeared at the Fillmore: Jimi Hendrix, Otis Redding, Cream, Howlin’ Wolf, Captain Beefheart, Muddy Waters, The Who, Janis Joplin, BB King , Velvet Underground, Led Zeppelin, etc.....