Duration: 1 September 2023 - 31 August 2028

Team: Nina Klimburg-Witjes (PI), Joseph Popper, Philipp Kürten, Kai Strycker

Funding: European Commission, Horizon Europe - ERC Starting Grant (GA 1010760)

For more details go to: https://futurespace-project.eu/

FutureSpace - Making the Ariane Rocket: Negotiating relations between European integration and the future of Europe in space


FutureSpace is a 5-year research project at the Department of Science and Technology Studies (STS) at the University of Vienna. The project is led by Assist. Prof. Nina Klimburg-Witjes and supported by a Starting Grant of the European Research Council (ERC).

When we think about European integration practices, we rarely consider how they may extend to outer space. Yet, a new global space race is in full swing, and commercial and government actors worldwide propose bold visions of human futures in outer space. Europe is at the cusp of deciding which role to play in this new space age – and how.

FutureSpace explores how practices of European integration and their underlying values and tensions inform European outer space activities – and how imagined space futures influence socio-political practices on Earth. 

We explore these questions by focusing on a core project where these issues are negotiated: the joint European rocket Ariane. FutureSpace‘s main objective is to develop a topography of envisioned European engagements with outer space through an in-depth investigation of various conflicting narratives about the Ariane program. The project develops an innovative multi-sited ethnography that links social science and aerospace engineering to investigate the material and imaginative aspects of infrastructures in transformation.

FutureSpace takes Ariane as a unique lens to provide empirically and theoretically rich insights into the coproduction of envisioned space futures and techno-political orders on Earth. It will offer timely and vital knowledge on the intricate relations between large-scale infrastructures, European political and economic integration practices, and imaginaries of European futures in outer space.


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