Wednesday, 20 Aug, 2008 Science

Sex in Space Possible but Problematic


In July, Dr Jason Kring, who works as an advisor at NASA, called for the agency to get the astronauts ready for sex in space. He said that a trip to Mars would last about three years and there's little chance that men and women working in the same team will not think about sex. Currently the space agency doesn't say anything about sex in space. However, for about 20 years mixed crews have performed missions in space and even a married couple flew on the US shuttle back in 1992.

There were rumors in the Soviet Union that Russian female astronauts did have sex in space when they went on a mission to the Mir space station. Will Whitehorn, president of Virgin Galactic, mentioned that these rumors were never denied. According to a space tourism venture, the test flights are likely to start this year.

"We've already had a number of inquiries from people about whether they could be the first to have sex in space. But we haven't accepted any bookings on that basis and won't until we understand what the safety issues might be," outlined Whitehorn.

But having sex in space could be quite problematic. Whitehorn explains that though there's the mass of a human body, there is no gravity to stop the person from being thrown in any direction.

"We'll understand a lot better in 2009 how our cabin will behave for weightless people and whether we will allow them to do it. They may then need training to have sex in space," said Whitehorn.

Some solutions to the problems regarding sex in space include handles, straps and bungees. There have even been proposals to use a bag developed for two persons, called 2suit. However, there are scientists who have other priorities than answering the question about a comfortable sex in space.

"As a biologist and physician, I'm not worried about the challenges of what might be called "rendezvous and docking. My concern is the implication of a pregnancy in space," said Dr Jim Logan, co-founder of Space Medicine Associates in Houston.

"A lot of people believe the success of our species depends on our ability to get off the planet to have viable, self-sustaining, self-replicating communities in space," he added.

Some space flights have shown that male astronauts registered a decreased level of testosterone and libido. Those who are in space for a longer period of time lose bone density, which is why researchers fear that babies conceived in space, where there's no gravity, could be born with fragile bones. Reproduction in space is a topic that has been poorly studied.

"After 47 years of space flight, we have yet to see a mammal go from copulation to birth, growth and then reproduction by the next generation," said Dr Logan.

Meanwhile if you wish to go for the space adventure the only thing that will make you excited is seeing our beautiful planet from space; there's little chance you will think about sex.


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