During the latter part of the last millennium, I can recall playing the board game Trivial Pursuit. During one game, one of the questions was along the lines of "What is the official or designated language for use in outer space?". The answer was Russian because the Russians were the first people in outer space. Its this true? Is there an official or designated language for use in outer space and if so, what is it?

In aviation, as of 2008, "English is now the mandated international language of Aviation".

I have read some articles from the World Wide Web and even if there is supposed to be an official or designated language for use in outer space what happens indicates there isn't.

During the crewed space missions conducted by nation states each national space agency communicated with its crew using its own language: Russian, English and now Mandarin.

When the Russian Soyuz space craft was used as the only means of getting people to and from the ISS all space travelers had to have an intermediate-high level knowledge of Russian. This was a procedural and safety requirement for traveling in a Russian vehicle.

The situation regarding the International Space Station (ISS) is different, which has accommodated people from various countries where neither Russian or English is spoken.

To stay on the ISS,

In order to keep it all running smoothly, it’s required that everyone who travels to the ISS has a working knowledge of English.

In the ISS however, a space creole seems to have evolved - "One of these is Runglish (Russian + English)". It has also been stated that,

the native English speakers speak in Russian, and the Russians in English. “The idea is, if you speak your native language, maybe you’re speaking too fast, or maybe you’re not sure if the other person’s really understanding you,” ... “Whereas if you both speak the language you’re not as fluent in, then you arrive at a level where people can be sure that the other person’s understanding.”

To reiterate, Is there an official or designated language for use in outer space and if so, what is it?

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    $\begingroup$ "Official" according to who, exactly? $\endgroup$ Jun 23 at 12:56
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    $\begingroup$ I would guess the taikonauts aboard the Tiangong space station speak neither Russian nor English. $\endgroup$ Jun 23 at 13:59
  • $\begingroup$ @DavidHammen I'd be quite surprised if they don't speak English. They're too high up the educational levels not to have learned in school. $\endgroup$ Jun 23 at 15:45
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    $\begingroup$ Yeah, the difference is that air-breathers (airlines) all have to interact with each other and with air-traffic controllers worldwide, so a designated language is safety-critical. It's not clear that we have that level of cooperation for unmanned or manned orbiting objects, let alone trips to other bodies. $\endgroup$ Jun 23 at 15:49
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    $\begingroup$ @CarlWitthoft I suspect what you wrote is true, that the taikonauts probably do know English. Thanks to the US mostly escaping the ravages of World War II, English has become the modern equivalent of Latin in technical areas. However, I doubt those taikonauts use either Russian or English when talking with one another, or when talking with mission control. $\endgroup$ Jun 23 at 16:01

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