originally published December 16, 2012
Yesterday I wrote about religion. As such, it’s only fair that I devote today’s article to science.
Ever since the first man fluttered above the atmosphere into the majestic shimmering garden of space, he wanted to know if he could have sex there. For ages, NASA wouldn’t say a word about whether or not this was ever even mentioned at a meeting of top scientists. But now that we’ve chalked up a half-dozen space tourists, and with NASA talking about lunar settlements and the possibility of someday colonizing space, the topic might be allowed to sit at the table.
And it’s about time. We’ve been sending up ants and worms and various tiny pests that – let’s face it – we’ll be abandoning to rot on our wasteland planet once we pack up and jet for the stars. Why hasn’t anyone looked into whether or not the mechanics of skronking will work in the cosmos?
There are a lot of physiological changes that occur to the body in space. That said, I’m pretty sure the body will be able to physically do what it needs to do to make it happen. A lot of the discussion that has eeked into the scientific community has involved the logistics of a baby making it through the womb journey and coming out in one piece.
Gravity plays a huge part in the development of vertebrae, as well as how our organs come to function. Chances are NASA isn’t going to send a pregnant woman up to the ISS to carry out her term just to see what happens because science isn’t that reckless / awesome. It would make for an interesting sci-fi/horror flick though, especially if it turns out that zero-gravity gestation leads to something cool like tentacles or – even better – super powers.
No, science doesn’t have the pressing need or the lack of ethics to force a human baby into being the subject of an experiment like this. But luckily, everybody hates rats. They make the perfect guinea pigs.
Speaking of which, why not use guinea pigs? Their only metaphoric tie to our language, and for that matter the only instance in which that species ever crosses my mind, is as a test subject for experiments. I’m just saying.
Anyway, they have taken knocked-up rats into space to test the workings of pregnancy, and so far the results aren’t very promising. The fetus still developed properly, all the parts were in the right place and no mysterious tentacles popped up. But once the babies were returned to normal gravity they were unable to right themselves. I don’t know if they tried to compensate for the zero-G conditions with leg-strengthening exercises (though I’d like to see a Youtube clip if they did), but clearly this will be a concern.
Embryo fertilization in space – at least with mice – has also been tested, and the fertility rate appears to be lower without gravity doing its mysterious part in the process. At this point, no one has ever tried to take any creature from fertilization through birth in space. I’m sure it’s coming, but it’s really not what this article is about.
For the purposes of my scientific mind, I’m much more interested in space-humping.
For starters, how can it be done? Astronauts have to strap themselves in just to sleep without drifting away from their cot. What kind of crazy apparatus would be necessary to facilitate the act of copulation? If only someone would have put a little time and effort into…
…oh, right. There’s the 2Suit.
An American novelist named Vanna Bonta (who was also the voice of the computer in Demolition Man, for all my readers who try to tie each of my articles somehow back to Wesley Snipes) came up with this device. She took one of those parabolic flights with the National Space Society – you know, the big planes that fly in repeated parabolic arcs to provide temporary simulations of zero-gravity. Like any inquisitive mind, she immediately wondered how one could get busy in such conditions. But Vanna had the determination to actually try to figure it out.
In 2006 she demonstrated the 2Suit, a garment made up of two flight suits which can attach together for adequate hook-uppedness to facilitate some quality junk-on-junk action. The 2Suit is also set up to attach to another surface, which means you can get busy up against a wall instead of worrying about bouncing off every surface in the cabin.
Vanna really thought this thing through.
She got the chance to test the suit out as well, as pictured above. The thing is, she developed this suit more as a means of enabling intimacy and closeness in zero-gravity, not specifically for sex. So we aren’t there yet.
Russian specialist Lyubov Serova doesn’t think there will be any physical concerns when it comes time to propagate the species in the cosmos (something that Stephen Hawking believes will eventually be a necessity). From what I can see, the primary concerns appear to be reproduction and psychology.
Sure, for a long-term space mission, it should be a concern if a couple of crewmembers hook up and subsequently alter the dynamic between everyone on the crew. But it makes for a much more dull discussion. Just to be safe, let’s not ever send Fleetwood Mac into space.
Most of the astronauts and cosmonauts in the space age have been men. Men are known for having a tremendously distorted thirst for achieving orgasm. I know, the screening process at NASA has probably endeavored to weed out the incurable horn-dogs, but come on – these are guys. They’re shooting into space inside a little can and staying up there sometimes for months at a stretch.
There isn’t a lot of opportunity for alone-time on the International Space Station. But every so often I’m sure these guys get a moment. Even when strapped into their sleep-bunk things, is it feasible to believe that the temptation hasn’t been there to polish the ol’ phaser? I’m not saying it has been done (the logistics of cleaning up that space-mess I don’t even want to begin to fathom), but it’s possible.
And the childhood dreamer inside me – the little kid who grew up fascinated by astronomy, by space exploration and by science fiction – mixed with the perpetual adolescent inside me, wants to believe, dammit.