I've been adding new objects and places to Dr Space Junk's Space Heritage List on Facebook. It's a fairly random, intuitive process (this despite having put together some criteria based on the Australian Commonwealth ones).
A number of things struck me, reflecting on this process. Firstly, most heritage criteria are designed to assess the significance of one place or thing at a time. What I'm doing, I've realised, is a little different. I am thinking about the shape of the whole list, and what it represents as collection. I'm trying to make it representative, both chronologically and geographically (or spatially). So (in a very gradual and ad hoc way), after having added some of the major ones like Tranquility Base, Peenemunde, Woomera (obviously!), Vanguard 1, Syncom 3 - all things you will recognise as my favourites, I'm filling in gaps. Something for every year since 1936, something from every country that has launched a satellite, or hosted a space installation.
This is more similar to a museum collection policy than how a standard heritage register works, where properties are nominated by professionals or interested parties without any coordination. And more like the World Heritage List, which tries to redress imbalances in its properties, and publishes documents identifying gaps.
There are two criteria that stand out as I think each day what I can add to satisfy demand. Firstly, I want to get something in there from every nation-state that has a space involvement. Nationalism and national prestige are significant motivating factors in spacefaring, and the role of nationalism in heritage, particularly world heritage, is a contentious issue and something that has been endlessly written about and debated.
Secondly, because this is a developing technology, and in a sense the ultimate colonising technology, many of the things that are intuitively significant are those that were the first to do something or go somewhere: the first spacecraft to flyby Mars, the first to land of Venus, the first active telecommunications satellite.
I'm still working out what this all means, but wanted to get my thoughts down before I forgot them!