Scientists are making a provocative case in a new paper out this month: Sex in space is going to happen sooner rather than later, and it’s about time people started preparing for it. They contend that space sex could happen even within the next decade. The industry needs to discuss how to handle the issue now, they argue, including studying any potential risks that space could have on related matters like conception.
The team’s argument was presented in a green paper released late last week. It’s authored by space-related scientists and clinicians from the U.S., Europe, and South America. Their premise is simple enough.
The space tourism industry is on the brink of commercial reality. Over the next ten years, the group posits, people with enough resources will regularly pay private companies to go on space flights that can last for days or weeks. And with human nature being the way it is, some of these customers will inevitably try to knock boots where no boots have been knocked before.
Sex in space has long been an area of interest to the public. And ultimately, if humans do become a space-faring species, the act would be essential for humanity’s long term survival. There has been some research looking at animal reproduction in space. And while government organizations like NASA have expressly forbidden astronauts from attempting sex, some scientists have become more open to exploring the issue as of late. But the authors say that the space tourism industry at large has stayed mum on it.
“Our starting point was a throwaway comment about sex in space, but when we checked, we were surprised the sector has not openly considered the risks and this led to the study,” said author David Cullen, professor of astrobiology and space biotechnology at Cranfield University, in a statement from the university.
The truth is that there are a lot of important questions to unravel when it comes to sex in space. For one, the microgravity environment of space—and the weightlessness it causes in astronauts—will undoubtedly complicate any attempts. These conditions likely won’t just make the physical maneuvering of sexual intercourse tricky, but could negatively affect people’s sexual function too. And even if you can pull it off, there’s also the concern that space could harm human reproductive health, which might then make conception and gestation riskier than it is on Earth.
The time to talk about and study these thorny questions is now, the authors say, before the business of space becomes booming.
“Given the long-term importance of human reproduction beyond Earth, as humanity is trying to become a multi-planetary species, we need to take seriously the possible first step, whether this is planned, or especially if unplanned,” said Egbert Edelbroek, a co-author of the report and the head of SpaceBorn United, a Netherlands-based organization studying reproduction in space.
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