Wanganui artist Julian Priest will watch his satellite being launched into orbit from Cape Canaveral at 10.41pm on Sunday.

It may only measure 2cm by 2cm but getting it up there has been an "adventure".

He will be at the Ward Observatory to watch the televised launch of his pico-satellite - a tiny satellite on a chip - as it happens at the Florida launch site where the United States began man's journey to the Moon.

Priest is part of an international project run by Cornell University PhD student Zachary Manchester, and his tiny satellite will be one of 200 on board a rocket-launched cargo capsule taking food and equipment to the International Space Station.


From there, the pico-satellites will be released into space.

Priest has named his space-bound artwork The Weight of Information.

"It's a tragic hero, a doomed death spiral which collects information and deletes it immediately, trying to stay aloft as it empties its memory," he said of the satellite, which will have a lifespan of just three weeks.

Priest will be picking up this "death-defying orbit" as his satellite transmits information back to listening stations on Earth.

He said he would pick up the information on his "hardcore radio" through his homemade antennae.

His computer will decode the signal.

The satellite will orbit Earth for three weeks before re-entering the atmosphere and disintegrating.

The event at the observatory on Sunday will start at 8pm and is open to the public for a gold coin donation, which will go to the Wanganui Astronomical Society. Priest said the "cloud" of 200 pico-satellites would be released as free-flying spacecraft that would go into low orbit, the same as the space station, 300 kilometres above the Earth.


While The Weight of Information is in orbit, Priest will hold "Meet to Delete" events.

He has teamed with ex-Nasa engineer Jason Quinn, who now lives in Wanganui, and the pair became involved when Mr Manchester posted information on fundraising website Kickstarter about his thesis on very small satellites.

The Weight of Information is the first in Priest's art series occurring while the satellite is in orbit. Other events would be held around the world, including Helsinki, Brussels, London and Bogota.

"It has been quite an adventure," Mr Priest said of the project. "I had to learn how to program satellites."

He received funding from Creative New Zealand.