Saturday, July 30, 2011
Procreation in space
Jamie Frevele wrote...
So, here we are, the human race, faced with a slight problem if found in the position of having to repopulate in space: we can’t. Astronauts in relationships who are unprepared to start families will rejoice at this! But if the Earth explodes and humans are left without another planet, they may have to scrap “the old-fashioned way” and find another biomedical option.
Scientists at NASA’s Ames Research Center say that the amount of radiation humans are exposed to during space travel would instantly sterilize a newly-conceived space fetus. Not only that, but sperm counts may also be adversely affected by radiation.
Editor’s Note: We’d like to remind our readers that while the hazardous vacuum of space may make for a fine contraceptive, it does not protect against STDs. Side effects can include loss of bone density, severe cabin fever, and alien parasites.
The study also alludes to colonizing Mars:
Dr. Tore Straume, a radiation biophysicist at the centre, said: “The present shielding capabilities would probably preclude having a pregnancy transited to Mars.” …
Dr. Straume added: “One would have to be very protective of those cells during gestation, during pregnancy, to make sure that the female didn’t become sterile so they could continue the colony.”
So, back to the drawing board on that one!
And Ceridwen wrote...
Scientists have done a bunch of tests and concluded that sex and procreation in space is no easy feat. In fact, it’s really hard. The hardest part? Not the floating copulating, not the gravity-free pregnancy–wow, just typing that feels good– but the cosmic rays. High energy protons could damage male sperm; any fetus that was conceived would not survive the pregnancy. Radiation spewing solar flares would be an issue, too.
To procreate in space, we’d need better insulation. Said NASA biophysicist Tore Straume, “The present shielding capabilities would probably preclude having a pregnancy transited to Mars.”
As for whether sex has actually been attempted in space, NASA isn’t kissing and telling. A husband and wife team did go on a mission together but NASA is not commenting on whether there was any cosmic hanky panky. According to Dailytech.com: “NASA and the Soviety space agency never revealed whether they conducted tests into orbital procreation. They have what is commonly referred to as ‘relationships of trust’ when it comes to relations between astronauts.” Copulation aside, some of those astronauts orbit for an awfully long time. I’m guessing there’s a highly confidential NASA paper on the subject of stellar ejaculation, floating (sorry) around somewhere.
In any event, I’m sorry to disappoint those of you hoping for some interplanetary conception. I imagine outer space childbirth would be really hard, too– talk about not being able to get into gravity-friendly positions.
The study was published in the peer-reviewed publication, The Journal of Cosmology and is available here .
Use the search engine and enter "sex in space" for more.