How linguistics can help in space exploration

Video credit: SpaceX, “CRS-8 Dragon Hosted Webcast” April 8, 2016, via YouTube.

Dear All,
The video above shows the first successful launch + landing (on a landing pad in the ocean) of the first stage of a rocket delivering cargo to space (see also the first successful launch + landing on a landing pad on the ground in the reference section (video 1) of this post). This is an important achievement in the world of technology and space exploration as it significantly reduces the cost of a space flight and makes space more available for research projects which can benefit more people and our environment.

The previous post has addressed the question of why linguistics matters. This post looks at how linguistics can and should contribute to space exploration.

Exploration of space is connected with astronauts. They are the people who go to space on a mission to conduct experiments and return to share the results of the research and their experiences with scholars and the wider community (e.g. see the video (2) in the reference section where astronaut Chris Hadfield delivers a TED talk). A trip of astronauts to space is called an “expedition”. A space expedition is a research “field trip” to space to conduct research and exploration space. To make an expedition a success a lot of things need to be done before, during, and after an expedition. Therefore, it is interesting to see how linguistics can help space exploration at each of these stages.

It goes without saying that if we ever encounter extraterrestrial forms of communication, linguists should take the lead in helping people to understand this communication and, in turn, to communicate successfully and safely. Besides this, how else can linguistics help in exploring space? It can help by:




1) lending methodologies in instruction (teaching and learning) to prepare new astronauts faster and more effectively;

2) designing websites and social media to attract some of the best specialists from all the corners of the world to projects;

3) creating a media environment where people can exchange ideas about space exploration and where investors can support talents;

4) launching social media campaigns to increase awareness of the importance of space exploration to attract people’s attention and particularly the attention of the growing generation to keep exploring space;

5) designing instructions (e.g. how to use a tool) and guidelines (e.g. how to act in a particular situation) in the most efficient and effective way;

6) instructing foreign languages to some of the best specialists from around the world facilitate their cooperation.

1) improving communication between the command centre on the earth and the crew in space;

2) ensuring successful communication of astronauts among themselves as a team and with other teams of astronauts;

3) creating and maintaining a crew journal to report on everyday activities for researchers on the earth to be able to analyse the course of an expedition and draw on the experiences;

4) exploring extra-terrestrial forms of communication;

5) creating a certain format for reporting on experiments or for other communications to increase their efficiency (e.g. short blog or email message with a certain structure (e.g. a video or an image on the left and X amounts of words));

6) exploring the influence of being in space on communication habits of people.

1) setting up social media and conference environments for astronauts to share their experiences with other people;

2) translating research articles (based on the findings from an expedition) and thus making them available to specialists to stimulate progress in space exploration;

3) ensuring that research findings in space are disseminated to the benefit of all the people.

The table above briefly outlines some of the points in connection with which linguistics can help exploration of space. The information in the table is subdivided into three groups: Before (1), During (2), and After (3). Every group consists of several points. Each point is connected with language and communication, the primary scope of linguistics.

In conclusion, this post has looked at how linguistics can help exploration of space. The objective of the post has not been to list all the possible ways in which linguistics can contribute, rather it has been to give an idea of possible ways and to encourage linguists to be more active contributors to space exploration.

It would be interesting to hear from you on how linguistics can/should contribute to space exploration. Please leave a comment in the comment section below.

First successful launch + landing on a landing pad on the ground:

Chris Hadfield at a TED talk:


1 Comment


    1. Why linguistics matters | BLOG|ON|LINGUISTICS

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