Mandel hopes to conduct research at McMurdo Station, a US research station in Antarctica.
“If you were to get out of your established tech zone in McMurdo, you wouldn’t survive long because of the extreme cold,” Mandel said. “This is one of the main reasons why this is an ideal comparative model for understanding the social challenges of isolation in a confined space.”
Watching submarine crew members spend months aboard a ship below sea level could set expectations for a 140 million mile voyage to Mars, Mandel suggested in his comment. She also offered to study the culture of oil rig workers.
“Like a starship or an alien outpost, oil rigs are driven by ubiquitous technology,” she wrote. “Employees on platforms rely on their colleagues and the machines around them to work constructively. They possess the ability to handle often unpredictable situations, much like astronauts on space stations.
As nations push full throttle toward Martian and lunar territory, Mandel seeks answers to ethical questions.
Here’s one: Will the rich wield power throughout the universe as they do on Earth?
Commercial interests already dominate the space travel segments.
Since 2021, space tourism has rapidly accelerated. From William Shatner to Richard Branson, celebrities and billionaires have boarded spaceships on suborbital journeys amid a global pandemic.
Revenue passengers have spent up to $28 million flying with Bezos and his company, Blue Origin. Branson’s Virgin Galactic sells space tickets for $450,000 per person to the general public.
The power dynamics of space exploration are of interest to Mandel. In her article “The Elysium Effect: Space Law and Commercial Space Disparities”, she describes global superpowers competing for resource acquisition and research development, as well as space tourism.
Mandel suggests that power imbalances on our planet are already manifesting in space and could lead to an inequitable distribution of natural resources extracted from Mars and the moons. Wealth and privilege would determine which nations would benefit.
Mandel advocates for a more equitable and inclusive future in space and on Earth.
His thesis is on congressional hearings on space. She will draw on her observations in Washington, DC, interviews with experts and various sources. She plans to “demystify expert witness groups” and examine “who we call an expert and why” in government proceedings.
“Becoming an astronaut doesn’t necessarily mean you’re an expert on what the human race should be doing on Mars, for example,” she said. “Militaristic desires tend to overlap Congressional hearings on space, even if presentations are framed as benign exploration.”
Mandel is Treasurer of JustSpace Alliance, an organization dedicated to bringing diverse voices to human space exploration.
“I’m part of the JustSpace Alliance because I believe you can be pro-human in space exploration, but recognize the need for change and advocate for inclusivity,” she said.
She has also worked closely with Humanity in Deep Space, a nonprofit group of space professionals, scholars, and organizations focused on the issues and challenges associated with life beyond Earth. .
She befriended the organization’s founder, Kris Kimel, who praised Mandel for his efforts in the anthropology of outer space.
“Our off-planet transition to deep space civilization poses an unprecedented existential challenge to humanity,” said Kimel, also co-founder of aerospace company Space Tango. “Savannah Mandel is pursuing a bold, non-traditional path in recognition of the critical role that anthropology – and our understanding of human culture and behavior – will play in the ultimate success or failure of this next great human migration.”
For Mandel, the journey into the anthropology of space began during his childhood in Florida.