As with other sociotechnical endeavours, outer space has long been the site of social and political struggles. Nation states have competed with each other over access to orbital space for militaristic or commercial uses, to send probes and robots to other planetary bodies, and to craft messages for putative extrasolar species. Elites have also imagined outer space as somewhere they can exercise power and influence: today, we can see very clearly in the form of companies led by wealthy billionaires, such as Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Richard Branson, amongst others. They are seeking to shape collective imaginaries of what the future of humans in outer space will be like. In turn, scholars, journalists and other citizen groups also contest these elite imaginings and challenge us to think differently about outer space, to challenge the way that media reporting for example often rehearses the language of ‘colonizing’ or ‘colonies’.
One task for our network then is to join with this effort to challenge and resist, to interrupt hegemonic imaginings of human futures.
Social Studies of Outer Space interrupt terrestrial modes of doing STS. Although our sociological and ethnographic research takes place in institutions and research centers on Earth, we address discourses, artifacts, and human-nonhuman assemblages that reach beyond our home planet: lunar landers, architectural plans for Mars colonies, spectrometers that search for extraterrestrial biosignatures, astronaut bodies, nationalist narratives, orbital infrastructures and many more.