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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.


This article was originally published in Current Anthropology in 2021.

Peer Reviewed



The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License



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