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Community and belonging are at the heart of this second section, which offers stories of objects which connect people to each other and to both the space community and the idea of a wider humanity. 

This section includes a trio of ‘conference giftables’—two wooden prayer bracelets, a glass Earth marble, and a short section of camera cable—gifts which were given to me, and to other conference attendees, at the Analog Astronaut Conference 2023, juxtaposed with a small selection of embroidered patches and stickers which are representative of a much wider practice within the space community of creating, gifting, and exchanging patches and stickers which often tell the recipient something about the person and their ‘mission’, projects, and affiliations within the space community.

The pair of signed images by NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg hold both personal and social significance: the relationship to Nyberg is a personal one, for the two used to rock climb together while living in Houston, and they are part of a much larger collection of astronaut autographs. These items are an example of collecting as a practice of enthusiasm and as a symbol of community participation and belonging.

A second example of collecting objects as a way to demonstrate that one is a space enthusiast and member of the community comes via Tremor the sequined dinosaur, a copy of a mass-produced TY Beanie Baby which rose to space community fame when he was glimpsed floating in the cockpit of the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule on the 2020 Demo-2 mission, the first crewed spaceflight from US soil since the shuttle era ended in 2011. Within hours of being spotted as the zero-gravity indicator on that flight, Tremor sold out of stores around the United States, as en-mass, enthusiasts rushed to own a piece of history that mattered to them.

More than a souvenir, the replica toys seem to share the ‘space-flown’ quality and associations of its sibling—something to hold and say this was there that day.