Welcome to the Spacecraft Tarot
Spacecraft have always fascinated me.
We send them out into the universe to be our eyes and our ears across unfathomable distances, and in the process, they take on personalities of their own. They are like little curious adventurers, exploring their surroundings and collecting stimuli. Like us, they experience hardships, suffer defeat, and celebrate victories.
The Fool represents a new beginning.
Sputnik I launched into orbit the same way the Fool steps off the cliff: completely oblivious of how the next moments would unfold, no inkling of how this event would change the course of history forever.
Hubble Space Telescope
The Magician is the ultimate problem-solver.
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope peers into the heavens, capturing image after image of worlds beyond our imagining and stitching them together to create a more complete understanding of our universe. Hubble had a rocky start and continues to face obstacles that need to be overcome for it to remain in service — a perfect analogy for the Magician’s knack for problem-solving.
Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter
The High Priestess is in tune with her intuition.
She peers into the dark mysteries of life, emboldened by her curiosity and her drive to explore. Just as the High Priestess can unveil what is hidden from view, NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) illuminates previously unseen parts of the Moon, reaping treasure troves of data.
The Empress protects you with her motherly nature.
The Empress has a strong influence on our origin stories, our beginnings. The Juno spacecraft captures the power of a mother’s spirit, and as it improves our understanding of our early solar system through its scrutiny of the planet Jupiter.
The Emperor governs with a stern yet loving force.
In many traditional decks, the Emperor sits on a throne adorned with rams — symbols for Mars. His strong association with Mars, in addition to his other attributes, make him a perfect match with NASA’s Viking project.
The Hierophant leads us through ceremony.
Representing a rich history, the legacy of the Soyuz rocket and spacecraft series is one that began over sixty years ago and continues to this day. Like the Hierophant, the Soyuz is consistent, reliable, and deeply rooted in tradition.
The Lovers share harmony.
The union of the Lovers is reflected in the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, which brought together two former Cold War rivals and ushered a new era of international cooperation in space.
The Chariot is the drive that thrusts us forward.
Whatever it is that grips us with a feverish passion, that keeps us dreaming long after we have woken up — that is the Chariot. The SpaceX Crew Dragon is the first vehicle designed, owned, and operated by a private company to provide human transportation to and from the International Space Station.
Strength helps us defeat all obstacles.
Whether you are battling an adversity, an enemy, or an inner demon, the urge to give up will be strong. What better spacecraft to embody strength than the Perseverance Mars Rover, the largest and most sophisticated Mars rover ever built, landed in the most difficult terrain a Mars rover has landed in.
The Hermit takes solace in time spent alone.
No spacecraft understands the meaning of being alone quite like Voyager. After decades of collecting data about our own solar system, Voyager 1 and 2 are traveling farther than any human-made object has ever traveled to learn about the limits of our Sun’s sphere of influence.
The Wheel of Fortune continuously turns.
Our current state of being — no how matter pleasant nor painful — will eventually pass. A joint-mission between NASA, the European Space Agency, and Agenzia Spaziale Italiana, the Cassini-Huygens project teams know the Wheel of Fortune all too well. The mission experienced countless ups and downs throughout its 20-year journey to explore Saturn and its moons.
Justice cuts a path to the truth.
NASA’s New Horizons is the first and only mission to visit Pluto, and in doing so the spacecraft completed a half-century long reconnaissance quest to send probes to every planet in our solar system. Today, New Horizons wanders even farther into the unknown to answer questions about the history of the little corner of space we call home. For Justice, space and time are nothing on a quest for truth.
NASA’s Apollo 13 mission was to be the third lunar landing attempt. Despite some minor hiccups, the flight appeared to be going pretty smoothly — until one of the oxygen tanks exploded while en route to the Moon. Three astronauts suddenly found themselves 200,000 miles from Earth with their supply of oxygen, water, and electricity in jeopardy.
Death is a fundamental part of life.
The Apollo 1 tragedy is a sobering reminder of the inherent risks of space exploration. The loss of three brilliant astronauts is a loss that can never be made up for. From this tragedy, NASA learned painful lessons on how to prevent similar tragedies, made adjustments to make the Apollo spacecraft safer, and ultimately fulfilled dream of the Apollo program to successfully land human beings on the Moon.
Temperance teaches us how to strike a balance.
Streaking across both the landmasses and bodies of water of our home planet is Landsat, one of a series of Earth-observing satellites that provides us with invaluable information about our planet’s natural resources: forest abundance, water supplies, and agricultural fertility.
The Devil will destroy you with temptation.
When the space shuttle Columbia disintegrated upon reentry into Earth’s atmosphere on Feb. 1, 2003, NASA had already suffered two major catastrophic accidents of a similar nature in its past: Apollo 1 and Challenger. In each case, the agency had mourned the immeasurable loss of the lives of these crews, put together a list of lessons learned, and made steps to try to improve NASA’s safety culture. Clearly whatever done was not enough.
The Tower is a warning.
Although we may think that we are always safe from tragedy — as safe as someone at the top of a tall tower — the truth is, as human beings on this Earth, we are always vulnerable to some form of unexpected change. The higher we go, the harder we can fall.
James Webb Space Telescope
The Star is a beacon of hope.
After decades in the making, the world’s most powerful and sophisticated space telescope has successfully launched, deployed, and is on its way to capturing glimpses of the universe in its infancy. James Webb Space Telescope will enhance our understanding of the cosmos more than ever before.
The Moon is elusive.
To look up at the night sky and see an orb of light so far away — it seems so unattainable, so impossible to reach. To grasp both realities that the Moon is a permanent fixture in the horizon, but also dappled with footprints, requires the mind to bend a little.
Parker Solar Probe
The sky is always darkest before the dawn.
The Parker Solar Probe is NASA’s mission to “touch the Sun.” With every tightening orbit, the spacecraft is swooping closer and closer to an understanding of our star, as well as all other stars across the universe, and how they influence their neighboring environments.
Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite
NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is the ultimate tool of judgment. TESS searches for planets outside of our solar system, also known as exoplanets. TESS’ tools of perception, especially when paired up with data from ground-based telescopes, can judge whether or not a blip of data is simply that or a newly-discovered world.
International Space Station
The World represents our connectivity to each other.
What better spacecraft to represent the World than the International Space Station, which has enjoyed over twenty years of continuous human presence in low-Earth orbit and stands as an emblem of global collaboration — a symbol for what can be accomplished when we set aside our differences and work as a team.