International Journal of Astrobiology

Making media work in space: an interdisciplinary perspective on media and communication requirements for current and future space communities 1

S. Babidge a1, J. Cokley a2, F. Gordon a3 and E. Louw a2
a1 School of Anthropology, Archaeology and Sociology, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD 4811, Australia
a2 School of Journalism and Communication, University of Queensland, Hood Street, Brisbane, QLD 4072, Australia e-mail:
a3 School of Psychology, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD 4811, Australia

Article author query
babidge s   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
cokley j   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
gordon f   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
louw e   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


As humans expand into space communities will form. These have already begun to form in small ways, such as long-duration missions on the International Space Station and the space shuttle, and small-scale tourist excursions into space. Social, behavioural and communications data emerging from such existing communities in space suggest that the physically-bounded, work-oriented and traditionally male-dominated nature of these extremely remote groups present specific problems for the resident astronauts, groups of them viewed as ‘communities’, and their associated groups who remain on Earth, including mission controllers, management and astronauts’ families. Notionally feminine group attributes such as adaptive competence, social adaptation skills and social sensitivity will be crucial to the viability of space communities and in the absence of gender equity, ‘staying in touch’ by means of ‘news from home’ becomes more important than ever. A template of news and media forms and technologies is suggested to service those needs and enhance the social viability of future terraforming activities.

(Published Online January 3 2006)
(Received October 7 2005)
(Accepted November 8 2005)

Key Words: anthropology; communications; communities; media; psychology; space.


1 Documenting the research-in-progress programme ‘Astronauts as audiences’, the first section of which was published as Cokley et al. (2005).