Sex in space (how to do it; what the consequences might be; and whether it’s happened already) isn’t something that most national space agencies are really comfortable putting out press releases on. I mean, except Russia. But that certainly doesn’t mean that people haven’t asked, theorized, and plotted models on it, and with more public interest from private organizations in space exploration since the end of the space shuttle program, and more public interest in Mars following the successful landing of the Curiosity rover, it seems like a good time as any to check in. Lets see what scientists have to say.
The Mars Foundation, for example, is a non-profit organization that’s attempting to launch a 501-day manned mission to orbit Mars in 2018, and because of the duration of the trip, is looking for a married couple to staff their ship. According to Laura Woodmansee, author of Sex in Space, expecting such a space voyage to include some extraterrestrial hanky panky is simply realistic. From Space.com:
Well, I’m sure that the couple chosen for the Inspiration Mars plan will have sex in space. No doubt there! I think that’s kind of an unwritten requirement. That’s why, I suppose, the foundation is planning to send a married couple. If how-to stories return to Earth with the Inspiration Mars couple, it really could inspire a true space tourism industry. Hopefully the couple will keep a diary and feel comfortable enough to clue the rest of us in on what to expect.
Sex in space isn’t exactly the easiest thing, even after you work out some way to steady yourself in microgravity. On the one hand, we’re not really sure that it would be possible to conceive a child in outside of the radiation shielding that is the Earth’s atmosphere. On the other, if it is possible, pregnancy in space could be fraught with increased danger. Astronauts already have to deal with the fluids and organs in their bodies repositioning themselves and loss of bone density over a long time spent in low gravity. Woodmansee mentions ectopic pregnancies as a particular risk, but adds:
The thing is, a baby created and born in space could be perfectly fine. We just don’t know enough about the subject. We’ve evolved here on the Earth, so moving to outer space is moving evolution in a different direction.
So if you find yourself in a position to have sex in a microgravity environment, just remember to use protection. And then let me know how you managed that, because I… have a friend who’s kind of interested in that thing. You know, academically.