2017. Damjanov. "Of Defunct Satellites and Other Space Debris: Media Waste in the Orbital Commons"


"Defunct satellites and other technological waste are increasingly occupying Earth’s orbital space, a region designated as one of the global commons. These dilapidated technologies that were commissioned to sustain the production and exchange of data, information, and images are an extraterrestrial equivalent of the media devices which are discarded on Earth. While indicating the extension of technological momentum in the shared commons of space, orbital debris conveys the dark side of media materialities beyond the globe. Its presence and movements interfere with a gamut of governmental, commercial, and scientific operations, contesting the strategies of its management and control and introducing orbital uncertainty and disorder in the global affairs of law, politics, economics, and techno-science. I suggest that this debris formation itself functions as media apparatus —it not only embodies but also exerts its own effects upon the material and social relations that structure our ways of life, perplexing dichotomies between the common and owned, governed and ungovernable, wealth and waste. I explore these effects of debris, framing its situation in the orbital commons as a vital matter of concern for studies of the human relationship with media technologies and their waste."

Keywords:outer space, orbital debris, media technology, waste, global commons, law, policy, governance, environment, postorbital futures


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Contributed date

May 27, 2018 - 12:07am

Critical Commentary

This 2016 article by Katarina Damjanov engages the topic of space debris as a media apparatus in the orbital commons. 



Cite as

Katarina Damjanov, "2017. Damjanov. "Of Defunct Satellites and Other Space Debris: Media Waste in the Orbital Commons"", contributed by Maggie Woodruff, STS Infrastructures, Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography, last modified 4 June 2018, accessed 16 June 2024. http://www.stsinfrastructures.org/content/2017-damjanov-defunct-satellites-and-other-space-debris-media-waste-orbital-commons