Lisa Ruth Rand

Ph.D., Consortium for History of Science, Technology and Medicine

2018 to 2019
Fellow in Residence

Space Junk: An Environmental History of Waste in Orbit

I am currently writing my first book, Space Junk: An Environmental History of Waste in Orbit. This book traces changes in the natural geophysical environment beyond Earth’s atmosphere by focusing on the rise of a form of waste colloquially known as “space junk”—technologies built for use in space that no longer serve a designated purpose. Space Junk will show how human societies and Earth orbit have mutually shaped each other over time. Looking beyond the standard historiographical focus on Cold War superpowers’ efforts to establish hegemony in the race to the Moon, I explore how scientists, state actors, and mainstream communities around the world came to view outer space as simultaneously threatening and vulnerable, detailing its transformation from an infinite frontier into a limited natural resource requiring order and management.