Satellite Orbit Holiday Equation

Satellite Orbit Holiday Equation

Inspired by an unpublished Life magazine photo shoot of a NASA “math party”, ‘Satellite Orbit Holiday Equation’ is the 2017 Christmas project by the four23 team.

In 1957 a group of NASA scientists posed for the magazine alongside a large blackboard, while chalking satellite orbit equations to calculate complex spacecraft trajectories, navigation and the orbits of spacecraft.

NASA would hold “math parties” for the most complex equations. Each member of the team would master one part of the equation - the first scientist would do their part and hand it off to the next scientist, and so on, until the equation was complete.

The Life magazine photos were taken just six days before the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1 – the first human-made satellite - winning the earliest round of the space race, and so were never published in Life magazine.

Sixty years later, a cohort of the four23 team spent a day, in an undisclosed location, hosting their own version of a maths party, recreating the unpublished Life magazine shoot, with the aim to collaborative illustrate the first ever Satellite Orbit Holiday Equation.

View the full seasonal story of the installation, film and images at

Satellite Orbit Holiday Equation is the latest addition to four23’s collection of Holiday projects.

Happy holidays, everyone.