The International Summer School "Introduction in Anthropology of Outer Space" took place at National Astronomy Observatory "Rozhen", Bulgaria on 18-24 August 2019. The host organizations were National Astronomy Observatory "Rozhen" and STS Center for Outer Space (STS COS) with the support of Research Centre ‘Science, Technology, Innovation', Faculty of Philosophy and History, University of Plovdiv, Department "Knowledge Society: Science, Education, and Innovations", BAS Institute for the Study of Societies and Knowledge, and Laboratory for Social and Anthropological Research (LSAR) together with Center for Policy Analysis and Study of Technology - Tomsk State University, Russia. It was the first event of STS COS, a new NGO created by Dr. Ivan Tchalakov and Dr. Irina Popravko in Plovdiv to develop the outer space research in Eastern Europe.
This year we had a few but very motivated participants as from Eastern Europe so The United States: Gabriela Radulescu (Humbold University in Berlin, Germany & University of Iceland, Reykjavik), Marija Isailovic (Vrije University in Amsterdam, Netherlands), Makar Tereshin (University of Tartu, Estonia), Abel Tilahun (University of the Arts in Philadelphia, U.S.). Several astronomers from NAO - two M.A. students and young researches, attended some of the lectures and seminars too.
The program envisaged three forms of mutual work – lectures (L), seminars (S) and reading sessions (R) – and was structured into three main sections:
- "Fundamentals of Anthropology of Outer Space" with lectures and seminars led by Dr. Lisa Messeri, Yale University, USA and Dr. Irina Popravko, Tomsk State University (TSU), Russia. It provided general overview of the field, followed by more specific focus on space sciences. The section introduced also the anthropological perspective on Soviet and Post-Soviet Space programs.
- "Exploring Outer Space – the perspectives of Political Anthropology and Sociology of Innovation" with lectures and seminars led by Dr. Sean Mitchel, Rutgers University and Dr. Ivan Tchalakov, University of Plovdiv, Bulgaria and TSU, Russia. The section examined importance of bottom-up initiatives in outer space research, namely in building space infrastructure (Brazilian space port) and unleashing new approaches to space exploration (the activity of Citizen's Advisory Council on National Space Policy, New Space entrepreneurship).
- "Passion, Endurance and Persistence in Outer Space exploration" – interventions of outer space practitioners: researchers, New Space entrepreneurs and (amateur) astronomers were sharing their experience. Invited speakers in this sessions were Dr. Nikola Petrov (director NAO Rozhen, expert on Sun and Solar System Research), Maxim Zayakov (CEO, Bulgaria Sat - the man behind the first private Bulgarian geostationary satellite launched in 2017 with Falcon 9 of SpaceX); Raycho Raychev and Stanimir (Stan) Gantchev (entrepreneurs and space visionaries, who established Endurosat and Space4BG, only Stan attened); and asist. prof. Iliana Ilieva (Space Biotechnology Lab, Space Research and Technologies Institute at Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, SRTI-BAS).
There were 5 days of intensive work that started from the introductory lecture by Dr. Nikola Petrov, director NAO Rozhen (PIC). The first two days participants discussed the Anthropology of Outer Space as a specific research area: Dr. Lisa Messeri gave her lectures Introduction to the Anthropology of Outer Space and Extraterrestrial Life-worlds, and reading sessions on Situated Planetary Knowledges and Place-Making on Earth and in Space; Dr. Irina Popravko told about Contemporary Anthropology and the Challenges of Outer Space and Anthropological perspective on (Post) Soviet Space Programs.
The next two days were in the frame of political anthropology and sociology of innovation perspectives of the Outer Space exploration: Dr. Sean Mitchell gave two lectures - Terrestrial Politics and Imaginaries and Outer Space and Space and Empire, and two reading sessions on Geopolitics, Environment, and Space and Terrestrial and Extraterrestrial Utopias. Dr. Ivan Tchalakov shared his experience of the research on New Space entrepreneurs of the US in his lectures Exploration & Colonization of Outer Space: Synergies and Tensions and Space Industry and New Space Entrepreneurs: An Anthropological Outlook.
The last day of the school was dedicated to different kind of outer space experience – space business and exploration. Maxim Zayakov presented his efforts in creating and managing BulgariaSat company, the first private Bulgarian operator, that possess its own telecommunication satellite at geostationary orbit. The satellite was built by Loral Space & Communications, US and launched on June 23, 2017 with SpaceX reusable Falcon 9 booster. The second speaker was Stan Gantchev, who told us the story of Endurosat, one of the fastest growing space companies in Europe, specialized in designs, building and operation of class-leading NanoSats for the global space market. The company was established in 2015 by a Bulgarian space visionary Raycho Raychev, Stan Gantchev and a team of talented young engineers. The final presentation in the panel was given by Asist. Prof. Iliana Ilieva, PhD candidate at SRTI-BAS, who presented the decades' long experience in design and operation of Bulgarian famous "Svet" Space Greenhouses, launched more than three decades ago by Prof. Tania Ivanova at SRTI.
It should be added that all participants also introduced their current (or future) research projects about Outer Space, and got feedback from the experts of the summer school.
We hope that it was the first step to develop this interesting research area in Eastern (and not only) Europe – we plan to continue our activities and organize different events to build the network of social researchers who as we are inspired of the latest achievements in exploration and colonization of Outer Space.
May 25, 2019
Thanks to the support of our host, Rozhen National Astronomical Observatory, we announcing additional call for applicants with deadline extention till June 15, 2019. The procedure is the same as in the intial call.
Ivan Tchalakov, Irina Propravko