Damjanov, K. and Crouch, D. (2018) ‘Orbital Life on the International Space Station’ Space and Culture First Published January 9, 2018
The International Space Station (ISS) is the largest object in the earth’s orbit and currently the only environment that harbors human life outside the planet. This habitable satellite operates as a sophisticated scientific laboratory and is a complex and costly technological endeavor in expanding our extraplanetary presence. The ISS constitutes a unique living space—a sociotechnical arrangement that encloses humans and nonhumans in a highly regulated and experimental setting that anticipates the orbital order of terrestrial ways of life. This article draws upon Michel Foucault’s work on power and space to frame the ISS as a form of “heterotopia” and explore it as a site in which technologically inflected inscriptions of the human incubate distinct material and social relations. It suggests that these orbital effects configure the practices underpinning the strategic spatialization of life and its governance beyond the globe.