Alice Gorman is an archaeologist who specializes in the material culture of space exploration, from its origins in the 1930s through to the present.
My story begins one day about 10 years ago when I was working as an archaeologist in Central Queensland on the kind of job I do most of the time which is looking at Aboriginal archaeological sites.
So I was out in the field, I was on a construction site so I had the steel capped boots on, high vis vest, hard hat. All of that stuff. Got to the end of the day. Hot, tired, sweaty. Went home. Didn’t bother to take off the boots or the vest. I went straight to the fridge and I got a cold beer and I went out onto my front veranda.
Now it’s in Queensland and as you know there’s no Daylight Savings there. So it’s pretty dark already by this time.
And when I look up into the sky — so I’m sitting back, sipping my beer, and suddenly a thought pops into my head. Amongst all those stars, some of those little bright dots are probably actually satellites. And some of them are probably quite old. They probably have some kind of archaeological potential.
So this was really the light bulb moment for me. I decided from that point that I was going to try and find out if one could do an archaeology of space exploration. After much soul searching I decided that I couldn’t actually pursue this idea from the wilds of Queensland.
So I resigned from my job. I packed up my entire house and put it into storage. And I embarked on that journey to find out. Like all space missions, that journey actually started on the surface of the earth for me.