Valentin Lebedev is a pioneer of space and earth science in Russia. He is also the first ethnographic diarist of outer space. In 1982, while “on orbit” for 211 days as a fieldworking cosmonaut, Lebedev produced a thickly descriptive account of the intimate sociality and technoculture of the Soviet space complex Salyut 7. Crafted to defamiliarize (ostranenie) a spaceworld that publics saw as flawlessly engineered and managed, the diary is an argument for the value of exospheric (exo-) surprise in human experience. But on another level, we learn that the surprise is on humans who would claim to conquer “space-as-itself”—a “zero gravity” environment of force fields both extremely inhospitable to life as we know it and also generative of life in all its expressions.


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pp. 1089-1106
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