The Space Station. (NASA)

NASA Needs to Take Space Sex Seriously

Article Updated: 24 Dec , 2015

by

The US space agency needs to have better consideration for the sexual needs of their astronauts during long missions in space. Also, more research needs to be done to investigate human embryo development in zero-gravity or low-gravity environments, especially if NASA is serious about setting up a colony on Mars in the next 30 years. These warnings have been issued by a NASA advisor at a time when the agency doesn’t have enough funds allocated for human space physiology. These concerns are by no means trivial, basic human needs and the ability to procreate beyond Earth may be critical for missions lasting years…

At a time when the question “Can we have sex in space?” is becoming more and more popular by the future space tourists hoping to become a member of the 100-mile high club, a serious issue is beginning to surface for our long-term presence in space. Humans have needs, and although the astronauts selected by NASA, ESA and the other international space agencies are highly professional individuals, Dr Jason Kring, a NASA advisor and assistant professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida, has pointed out that sexual desire is as potent as the need for water and food. “But the bottom line is that, like hunger and thirst, sex is a basic biological motive,” he said in an interview with the UK’s Sunday Telegraph. “The potential round-trip mission to Mars could take three years. It doesn’t make sense to assume that these men and women are going to have no thoughts of it for three years. Nasa and other space agencies should address this in their training and in crew selection.” Kring suggests our future long-term space explorers should replicate what the early polar explorers did and take a colleague as a lover to minimize sexual frustration.

It is difficult to predict the stresses long-term missions into space and to other planets may cause, but there is a very practical reason for this worry. Heightened stress on a spaceship will create an increased risk of confrontations, lack of focus and mission failure. When considering a possible 3-year mission to Mars, mission scientists will want the crew to be as calm and stress-free as possible.

Kring adds that future manned spacecraft to the Moon and Mars should be designed to optimize the privacy of astronauts so relationships can be consummated. This basic human need was recognized by explorers here on Earth where South Pole expedition members took on “expedition spouses” as sexual partners for the duration. When the expedition was over, the explorers would return home to their families and spouses. Pairing up with a colleague therefore sidesteps the biological issues of the possibility of “going without” for months, or years at a time. There are obvious questions surrounding the psychological effect of taking on “expedition spouses” (especially the effect on the partners waiting here on Earth for the astronauts return!), but the biological question will at least have an answer.

The fact remains however, that we are naive of the effects of sex in space, let alone if it is even a pleasurable experience. The mechanics of “human docking procedures” (as described by tests carried out by the Russian space agency) are a lot more complicated when in zero gravity. NASA researchers have pointed out that additional problems include motion sickness, increased sweating and a drop in blood pressure – all of which are big problems for astronauts in space.

There are also huge ethical questions hanging over possible pregnancies in space. Zero-G tests on rat embryos produced decreased skeletal and brain development, the effects on a human embryo will remain a mystery. Also, even if astronauts are having sex for purely recreational reasons, the effectiveness of oral contraception has been brought into question, making the whole procedure highly problematic, risking accidental pregnancies (something no space agency is prepared for, especially during missions to the Moon or Mars).

The fact remains that NASA continues to cut back biological research in favor of future Moon missions, so much about human sexuality in space will remain a mystery. This point is highlighted by a NASA spokesperson who stated, “We don’t study sexuality in space.”

Source: Sunday Telegraph


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
unlimited_pastries
Guest
July 12, 2008 1:00 PM

just give the female astronauts vibrators and the male astronauts fleshlights. problem solved.

Sci-Fi-SI
Guest
July 12, 2008 2:17 PM

Any what is wrong with going without?

If marriage means anything, if an oath is worth anything, if a vow means anything. If love honour and fidelity mean anything at all. Then ‘expedition’ partners are totally against moral behaviour.

No it’s not ok, by any means.

I can control myself and I don’t need to have the mental discipline of an astronaut.

We can’t afford to have ‘tiffs’ up in space where not only the future of science but also lives are at stake.

Get a bloody grip.

gwhitton
Member
gwhitton
July 12, 2008 2:17 PM

if that is all people needed, there would be no human race.

David R.
Member
David R.
July 12, 2008 2:51 PM
Dr. Kring’s observations are correct from purely a survivalist point-of-view. Sure, people have needs, and sex is one of them. But taking on expedition spouses and expedition sex reduces sexuality to nothing more than an urge (among a myriad of other urges) that needs to be relieved. So with that in mind, if we go down this course, space exploration is reduced to a large vacuum where sex and other biological functions are met. Space thus becomes a jumbo sized recepticle for sperm, vaginal fluids, feces, urine and the occasional smattering of vomit, tears, mucus, sweat, blood. body hairs, ear wax and spittle. So I could just stay at home and find the most convenient way to relieve… Read more »
DannyBoy
Guest
DannyBoy
July 12, 2008 2:59 PM

It is interesting to note that Robert A. Heinlein addressed this very issue (sex and a mission to Mars) in his book “Stranger in a Strange Land.” This was first published in 1961.

sourman
Guest
July 12, 2008 4:35 PM

@ unlimited_pastries : Good one razz

@ Sci-Fi-SI : Naturally, this wouldn’t be an option for married astronauts, but for those who are single, and not committed to anyone, I don’t really see what the problem would be

GekkoNZ
Member
July 12, 2008 6:19 PM
Its a very interesting subject that does need to be taken seriously. One potential problem with a couple of astronauts are having a sexual relationship, is that of jealousy by other team members. That can lead to serious issues if everybody is to get along for years at a time. There are some who spout on about “love and fidelity and the cheapness of “just” sex”, but seriously, thats just ignoring the real biological and psycological issues and covering them up with niceties and wishes. Humans are, well, human after all. One possibility, as mentioned above, would be giving astronauts privacy and the “tools” as it were, for self relief ( private sleeping quarters? ), and banning real… Read more »
MoonManMike
Member
MoonManMike
July 13, 2008 1:22 AM

Whether future astronauts take an ‘expedition spouse’ or not, has anyone ever come up with a real and positive reason why future long distance spacships should not be built as a centrifuge? (Thus eliminating the ‘problem’ of one’s partner floating away at the first attempt at ‘docking’……and also combating many other problems including medical issues such as heart and muscular deterioration)

James
Guest
James
July 12, 2008 7:19 PM
I’m in agreement with the article that space sex is a serious issue, but at the same time I’m with Sci-Fi in that a partner just for having sex in space is crazy! It’d put too much stress on the other person down here. Really, if the person left behind has to go without it, so does the astronaut. Of course, in a situation where both members of the relationship are comfortable with an open relationship, then I am in no way against it. Obviously, however, I don’t think that’d be the situation for every astronaut headed off into the cosmos. Gekko also makes some good points. I think his suggested approach is pretty logical. All we’d need… Read more »
David
Guest
David
July 12, 2008 8:53 PM
I’m amazed at the seeming prudishness I’m seeing. Go without for eight weeks, if you can, see what happens to you. The US Navy bans sex aboard ship, but it goes on. It’s not a blind eye thing, when caught in the act, the parties pay heavy fines. US Sailors get deployed for months, back home their spouses generally cave in after two to three months. It’s predictable. I assumed sex in space has already taken place. Wasn’t there a married couple on the same mission a few years ago? How could Nasa pass up the opportunity, even if they didn’t make it public. Sex being a private thing, I wouldn’t expect to here anything about sex in… Read more »
Silver Thread
Member
Silver Thread
July 12, 2008 9:43 PM

Another good reason we need to send Robots to do as much exploration as we can first.

That point aside, there are mechanical methods available to preclude pregnancy in order to avoid issues with drug side effects etc.

It’s a difficult subject to discuss in light of the fact that the Astronauts really need to have final say on the matter since it’s their life and their body.

JJ
Guest
JJ
July 12, 2008 10:57 PM

Now that’s an idea whose time has cum!
(The best little Whorehouse in orbit)

Pop
Guest
Pop
July 13, 2008 6:34 AM
Tempest in a Tea Pot. Sex is so natural, it will happen regardless of what people think, want, or demand of our astronauts. There’s nothng humans have ever done to keep other humans from engaging in sex. The only way to keep astronauts from engaging in two people sex is to send them on solo flights. We will have hetro and homo- sexual relationship. We need to accomodate astronauts in this. We also need to find out if we can procreate viable and sustanable life in space and on other planets. The only was to do this is to “do it.” If we can not procreate in space and on other planets, what’s the use of even going?… Read more »
Van
Guest
Van
July 13, 2008 12:29 AM
As I recall, it turned out quite badly for the crew of that mission to Mars in “Stranger in a Strange Land”, leaving the baby to be raised by the natives. Science fiction is not about predicting the future but showing what the future will be if we do not watch out! NASA’s attitude but sex is a time bomb waiting to explode. I would like to see a “play room” on the ISS just for sex – either alone or a crowd. I imagine some informal arrangement has all ready been made by one or more of the crews. Could we not be grown ups about this? One of my favorite quotes in science fiction is from… Read more »
James
Guest
James
July 13, 2008 12:53 AM

There is one too many references to Star Trek in the above post.

Bobby Treat
Guest
Bobby Treat
July 13, 2008 1:08 AM

Sex has nothing whatever to do with morality, and people who get jealous/angry will have to get over it or climb out the airlock. If crew members can’t separate/reconcile relationships vs. duty, they’ll effin’ DIE on the way, and why shouldn’t they?

owen
Guest
owen
July 13, 2008 4:39 AM

To avoid the problem of someones husband or wife back on earth being jealous why not choose only people who are single. And to help deal with the issues of people becoming jealous get the astronauts to meet before hand and then match up the most compatible. If that doesn’t work then have a couples councilor on hand at all times to help them deal with their issues. Another thing could be that they have a private area in which to have sex and it is decided that what happens there stays there.

joe
Guest
joe
July 13, 2008 9:12 AM

I don’t know which is more ridiculous: the religious whackos twisting religion to fabricate sex as a sin or nasa “studying” it in space. One thing for sure: Like the religious whackos attack science, they will lobby politicians with “my taxes paying for what!?” and the same politians who want to shut down hubble will want to shut down the mars mission. Oh and Sci-Fi-SI, LOL, your lack of control of your pride, says different.

RetardedFishFrog
Guest
RetardedFishFrog
July 13, 2008 9:49 AM

Didn’t sailors take turns in the barrel?

But seriously, sex will be inevitable on long space trips. To avoid problems with a developing fetus, it should be limited to oral sex until we have a better understanding of what the affects of weightlessness are on an unborn child.

(This is getting kind of graphic for a family/education oriented web site such as UT.)

bugzzz
Member
bugzzz
July 13, 2008 9:49 AM

Mosy importantly, who gets to choose the sex music for space missions?? Barry white, while good in theory, would get old fast. Maybe some ’50s Miles Davis. Nat King Cole?

wpDiscuz