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About Message in a Bottle

In the Message in a Bottle project, an astronaut on board the international space station, in orbit around the earth, performed a special mission to capture a little piece of space and return it to earth in a small glass bottle. In doing so, the astronaut not only created a memento of his or her time in space but also a message for present and future humankind.

Once brought to earth and placed in people's hands, Message in a Bottle becomes a conduit between humans and space,between this world and the one beyond us. Our hope is to inspire wonder about our extra-terrestrial activities in this new Age of Exploration, and make us realize that earth itself is merely one small part of the entire universe.

After the experience of holding space caught inside the glass,visitors are asked to inscribe their thoughts and wishes regarding the project. As the project travels from country to country, these words and images become the "messages in the bottle," that might help guide our path in the future, adding to an important, growing archive maintained at the Message in a Bottle homepage.Thus, this seemingly "empty" bottle becomes a narrative device to help generate images in the minds and words of people for years to come.

Shiro Matsui

Born in Tenri, Nara, 1960.

Professor at Kyoto City University of Arts.


 After his first solo exhibition in 1983, Matsui Shiro attracted attention as one of the young artists playing a key role in the Kansai new wave with a unique formative art created with various materials, humor and intelligence. He began to create works with silicone rubber in 1991, and has output numerous site-specific works using nylon balloons since releasing The Way to Artwork is Through the Stomach, a masterpiece using materials for tents, in 1997.

  His works applying principles of natural science shake human perception and space recognition. He has tried to do gardening in space and bring back bottled cosmic space in collaboration with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), and has organized the Message in a Bottle art project in various areas since 2014.

Message in a Bottle

Mission in Space


Two separate missions were made before space could be successfully returned to earth as a Message in a Bottle.


Mission One began with a statement recorded by the female NASA astronaut Shannon Walker on September the fifteenth, 2010 (Wednesday) 0:25 (Japan time): “I Shannon Walker, on the fourteenth of September in the year 2010, hereby announce that on behalf of the people of planet earth, we will perform an E.V.A (extra vehicular activity) to fill this bottle with a bit of outer space. We will then take this bottle back home where it will serve as a memento of our endeavors, and as a message of wonder for all people”.

On the first of March 2011 (Tuesday) at 6:43 (Japan time), with Space Shuttle Discovery docked to the International Space Station, NASA astronauts Steve Bowen and Alvin Drew received instructions to return to the airlock after an E.V.A.. The crew on board the Space Station played the song “Message in a Bottle” by eighties English rock band The Police, as a cue for the astronauts to perform their next activity, to capture a memento from space. Once the task was completed and the bottle sealed, a commemorative photograph was then taken to mark the occasion.




Message in a Bottle was returned to earth on board Space Shuttle Discovery (Mission STS-133) on April the nineteenth, 2011, before being transported to Tsukuba Space centre in Japan (TKSC). However, upon removal of the glass bottle from its aluminium canister it was discovered that the glass had been damaged, and the contents lost.


Following investigation in to the possible causes of the damage to the glass, the project was redesigned to eliminate any impact that the bottle may have been subject to during the space walk. It was decided to use a robotic arm to collect the sample, and a second mission was made on September the twenty first, 2012, on board Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's HTV-3 cargo ship “Kounotori”. On October the forth (Thursday), Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide attached the bottle to an MPEP (multipurpose experiment platform) and maneuvered it in to position outside the Japanese “Kibo” module using its robotic arm, in order to take the sample.

The glass bottle remained in storage within an airlock until January the twenty fifth, 2013 (Friday), when NASA Astronaut Thomas Marshburn signed the canister, and Message in a bottle was returned safely to earth on board a dragon spacecraft in March 1, 2013.