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Space Age Archaeology

Technological rites of passage in the liminal space of Earth orbit.

27 Jan 2017, 07:33 UTC
Technological rites of passage in the liminal space of Earth orbit.
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

In February 2016, a cosmonaut on the International Space Station lobbed a USB stick out of the hatch to become an orbital object for perhaps a few weeks, before a fiery death in the Earth's atmosphere. To give it enough mass to leave, it was attached to an empty film cannister stuffed with paper towels. Presumably these objects were due for disposal as waste in any case.Cosmonaut Sergey Volkov about to release the package.Image credit: NASA TVThe USB stick contained messages and videos from the 2015 celebration of Victory Day, May 9, which commemorates German surrender to the USSR at the end of World War II. It was the 70th anniversary of this day.It's not entirely clear from the media accounts whether the flash drive was material from the cosmonauts themselves, or of Russian people and celebrations back on Earth. I think it is most likely the latter, as otherwise, surely, cosmonauts could have thrown their own USB out for the actual 70th anniversary in 2015, rather than a year later in 2016. (Although I suppose they may have had to wait for an EVA).It's worth musing a little further on this hybrid orbital object, though. It was composed partly ...

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