We all heard tales of sex in space and experiments made in the 90s on the space station(more on that in a moment). Elon Musk the SpaceX CEO wants to send humans to Mars ….and The SpaceX CEO may somehow be the first one to create an “interplanetary species,” which means creating a self-sustaining civilization living and dying on Mars — which at some point will require sex and pregnancy on Mars.
Mars and space sex
First we need to figure out how to keep people alive on the trip to the Red Planet, before we can see how humans can safely reproduce and make Martians! We don’t have any data on how human bodies will work on Mars specifically, but we have enough information to know that sex in space could be a real hassle.
Officially no one has had sex in space yet but maybe we should look into old files from the Russian space agency… I heard through contacts in Russia that experiments were conducted in the 80s on the MIR station. A reliable source who use to develop psychological profiles on prospective Russian astronauts once confided that men and women DID experiment with zero-gravity intercourse.
There are also stories of astronauts married to each other like Mark Lee and Jan Davis who were secretly married before they went into space in the early 90s. NASA forbids married couples to go together, mostly because they think it might negatively affect the team dynamic.
Married couples may be a bad idea.
The two main difficulties of space sex would be gravity or the absence of it and the human emotional instability factor. Gravity has played a role in human development for millions of years with the human body either using or fighting it. Intimate relations in low or without- gravity will be physically complicated. As Neil Degrasse-Tyson puts it: ..”it would require straps and things..” There is space-sickness which is definitely not romantic. Microgravity makes it very hard to hold onto each other; while you’d keep floating away unless you held onto each other or anchored yourself. It can also create blood-flow problems that make it difficult to get and sustain an erection. And there is body fluid behavior
In zero-G where small droplets could just float away afterwards. The logistics are so complicated that NASA physician Jim Logan told NBC that sex in space would likely have to be “choreographed.”
This brings us to the second factor of complexity: human emotional instability. SpaceX has estimated that the trip could take as little as 80 days, but a more realistic estimate is around six months. Inspiration Mars, a rival to SpaceX has tried to recruit older married couples for its trips to potentially reduce sexual tension and frustration.
Having only married couples can also complicate things, according to Sheryl Bishop, a researcher who studies human performance in extreme environments. “People always think that you can solve the problem of sexual conflict by sending married people, and I’m saying, really?” she says. If you put 10 married couples on a boat together and sent them off for two years, it’s not always the same 10 pairs that will come back.
On long missions, married couples could have a positive and stabilizing role while married people may know their companion better and be more committed. But if one of those marriages breaks down, it’ll be more than just the two who are affected — and that could be disastrous on a long flight where you can’t leave.
A better way to combat sexual tension is to think very carefully about the makeup of the crew. When it comes to teams getting along on long expeditions, the biggest source of sexual conflict is — unsurprisingly — putting together single young men and single young women, according to sports psychologist Elisabeth Rosnet. This group is prone to what she calls “seduction behaviors,” as well as frustration, rivalry, and sexual harassment. With any other combination of people, the risk of sexual jealousy or sexual relations isn’t as high. So maybe the answer is simply not to send young, single folks on the first trips.
One solution : sterilization
Even if the logistical problems of space sex are solved, other obstacles remain. There is radiation, which Musk dismissed as “not too big of a deal,” can make people infertile, or have disastrous consequences on the genome. That means that astronauts who are exposed to radiation might later have babies with severe birth defects — which might undermine the idea of a self-sustaining civilization.
Even without the radiation, pregnancy in space is not a good idea now, or maybe ever. Gravity is important to make sure babies develop properly in the womb, and studies on mice have shown that microgravity has very bad effects. “Since we have already indications of that, it’s completely irresponsible for anybody to consider experimenting with this before we have a lot more information and a lot more data,” says Bishop. “If we meet Elon Musk’s schedule and we’re rolling out a team to Mars in the next decade, I think that the only ethical thing is that every single person on board would have to agree to be sterilized because the risk to that fetus is catastrophic and you can’t do that ethically.”
If we one day make it to Mars and want to experiment with pregnancy, one option could be to create an artificial gravity lab where pregnant women live for nine months, according to Bishop. But until then, best not to think too ambitiously about being the first person to give birth to a baby on Mars.