Fallen Astronaut is a 3.5-inch (8.9 cm) aluminum sculpture created by Belgian artist Paul Van Hoeydonck. It is a stylized figure of an astronaut in a spacesuit, intended to commemorate the astronauts and cosmonauts who have died in the advancement of space exploration. It was commissioned and placed on the Moon by the crew of Apollo 15 at Hadley Rille on August 2, 1971 UTC, next to a plaque listing 14 names of those who died up to that time. The statue lies on the ground among several footprints.
The crew kept the memorial's existence a secret until after completion of their mission. After public disclosure, the National Air and Space Museum requested a replica of the statue. Controversy soon followed, as Van Hoeydonck claimed a different understanding of the agreement made with the astronauts and attempted to sell up to 950 copies of the statue. He finally relented under pressure from NASA, which had a strict policy against commercial exploitation of the US government space program.
Prior to his Apollo 15 lunar mission, astronaut David Scott met Belgian painter and printmaker Paul Van Hoeydonck at a dinner party. They agreed that Van Hoeydonck would create a small statuette for Scott to place on the Moon, though their recollections of the details differ. Scott's purpose was to commemorate those astronauts and cosmonauts who had died in the furtherance of space exploration, and he designed and separately made a plaque listing 14 American and Soviet names. Van Hoeydonck was given a set of design specifications: the sculpture was to be lightweight but sturdy, capable of withstanding the temperature extremes of the Moon; it could not be identifiably male or female, nor of any identifiable ethnic group. According to Scott, it was agreed Van Hoeydonck's name would not be made public, to avoid the commercial exploitation of the US government's space program. Scott got permission from top NASA management prior to the mission to take the statue aboard his spacecraft, but did not disclose it publicly until a post-mission press conference.