You probably wouldn’t believe me if I told you that 70 years ago, your government rounded up homeless kids and then started using them for scientific experiments before blasting them off into space. Of course, this never happened, yet it did happen to man’s best friend. Exactly 70 years ago today, the first attempted flight to space carrying two such dogs returned them both safely back to earth, while other launches resulted in canine deaths. Nearly 100 dogs have been to space from different programs, and in 1957, Laika (nicknamed a “Muttnik” in reference to her being mixed-breed and the first spacecraft, Sputnik) became the first living being to die orbiting the earth. Laika’s involuntary act of courage is commemorated today with Cosmic Paws, a generative art collection of NFTs celebrating the illustrious history of dogs in space.
“This is all about the love of two things, art, and space,” says Mike Mongo, astronaut teacher and author of the children’s book, The Astronaut Instruction Manual. “The Muttniks led us to space. They get to be part of our future as well as our past,” Mongo emphasized. An official ambassador of ULA-supported Johnny Appleseed in Space and founder of The Humannaires Initiative, Mongo has owned and trained dogs since he was a child and loves space as a source of inspiration. “Creators are collectors,” he said. “We don’t get to generative NFTs and collectibles without comic books and trading cards,” Mongo reminded us. “I collected comic books and Garbage Pail Kids. I will always collect street art and stickers,” he said.
The Cosmic Paws project team consists of Mongo, subtractive, TSStarfish, giovignone, and friends cryptotts (NFTs-for-good), @rogersdev, @buildestroy7, @withaerial, @PurpLeTariat, @kas__vegas, and @QuantumVariant. Inspired by Moebius and Final Space, the creative team spent a lot of time and consideration for the visual aspects, like lines in the background and color differentiation. In addition, the dog’s mouth, teeth, and ears were inspired by Laika herself. “All of who have been working on it, we’ve been working together for over a decade, and well all love each other’s work,” he said.
If randomly generated collectible NFTs were rated by their visual aesthetics alone, Cosmic Paws would certainly vie for Best in Show. Noteworthy differences that separate this project aesthetically from many of the other randomly generated NFT projects are that Muttniks aren’t 8-bit designs; they’re also female. “This is something I haven’t seen much of, which is a very female point of view,” says Kyle Schember. “I think it’s really fun. Let’s hope the art speaks for itself.” Each Muttnik will cost .06Ξ each, and none of them will be gifted or given away; this is an entirely random collection that affords anyone a fair and equal shot at something rare, even if it takes a year to sell all 10,000 of them.
Another interesting aspect of this sales process is that each potential collector can perform a REgeneration to discover what their Muttnik will look like in advance of minting the NFT to the blockchain. Until now, collectors typically purchase randomly generated NFT collectibles sight-unseen at the point of minting, or they’re forced to patiently await the NFT reveal date. For Cosmic Paws, you can generate a different Muttnik over and over until you like something. You might generate a Muttnik you love—spin again anyway, and get a Leika you don’t like very much. “When a Muttnik is REgenerated and not claimed, there is practically zero chance that version will be seen again,” Mike Mongo emphasized. You may really like your Leika even if it doesn’t look rare, yet nobody will know if it’s rare until the entire project is revealed. This strategy can captivate collectors as they continue to calculate the supply of rare based on the scarcity of Muttnik attributes that have already been minted. Unknown possibilities present an intriguing gaming aspect for crypto art flippers to become collectible art REgenerators.
But wait—where’s the utility? “What we do know, is how to write on the blockchain, and we figured out the random generator, which was really, really tough,” says subtractive. To reward its community and cultivate a creative arthouse of space dogs, the first 5,000 Muttnik token holders will begin a voting process to select a remix artist from the community while a “Paws in Space” selection committee of top collectors considers the next project from a list of dog space heroes. The winning community artist is announced and onboarded to use the Muttnik regeneration platform for a Laika V2 Muttnik remix. “We will onboard them to do their own collection, through our platform, then wash, rinse, and repeat again,” says subtractive. “ We can work with artists who don’t know how to do this so artists in our community can be the next in line to produce the next round,” he said. “You have full permission to print, do t-shirts, do whatever you want with it.”