Visual displays in space station culture: an archaeological analysis

Justin St P. Walsh, Alice C. Gorman, Wendy Salmond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


We offer an archaeological analysis of the visual display of “space heroes” and Orthodox icons in the Russian Zvezda module of the International Space Station (ISS). This study is the first systematic investigation of material culture at a site in space. The ISS has now been continuously inhabited for 20 years. Here, focusing on the period 2000–2014, we use historic imagery from NASA archives to track the changing presence of 78 different items in a single zone. We also explore how ideas about which items are appropriate for display and where to display them originated in earlier Soviet and Russian space stations starting as early as the 1970s. In this way, we identify the emergence and evolution of a particular kind of space station culture with implications for future habitat design.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)804-818
Number of pages15
JournalCurrent Anthropology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Space archaeology
  • Archaeology of the contemporary past
  • International Space Station


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