Is Space a Human Place?

For millennia, Homo sapiens have looked up at the stars—but only recently have we started to consider what it will be like to live among them.

From space junk and the International Space Station to space colonization and SpaceX, space is becoming a more human place. What will it mean when we finally settle among the stars? We might relate to one another, and to these new environments, in novel ways—or we might not. SAPIENS host Jen Shannon probes the nascent field of space archaeology and looks to human understandings of exoplanets for answers.



Alice Gorman is a senior lecturer in archaeology and space studies at Flinders University, and Justin St. P. Walsh is an associate professor and the chair of the art department at Chapman University. Together they lead the International Space Station Archaeology Project.

Lisa Messeri is an assistant professor of anthropology at Yale University and the author of Placing Outer Space: An Earthly Ethnography of Other Worlds. She is currently researching the field of virtual reality technology.

Learn more about the anthropology of space from Michael P. Oman-Reagan at

This episode of SAPIENS was produced by Paul Karolyi, edited by Matthew Simonson, and hosted by Jen Shannon, with support from SAPIENS co-hosts Esteban Gómez and Chip Colwell.

SAPIENS producer Arielle Milkman, executive producer Cat Jaffee, and House of Pod intern Lucy Soucek provided additional support.

Fact-checking is by Christine Weeber, illustration is by David Williams, and all music is composed and produced by Matthew Simonson.

SAPIENS is part of the American Anthropological Association Podcast Library.

This is an editorially independent podcast funded by the Wenner-Gren Foundation and produced by House of Pod.

Read a transcript of this episode here.