Can humans or other animals reproduce in space in zero gravity?

Sure, there have been several experiments involving sex while in orbit. None of them, alas, have involved humans—at least, according to NASA. That makes it sound as if we don’t believe them. Frankly, we do, for a couple of reasons:

Until recently, space trips have been relatively short—certainly not long enough for astronauts to start making “master of my space domain” wagers with each other.

It’s against official guidelines for astronauts to engage other astronauts in sexual activity on space missions. Why would they jeopardize such a great job?

The astronauts stay pretty busy during a mission, with all those buttons and instrument panels.

Where, exactly, would one get the privacy necessary to do the deed? If one guy’s getting action, the jealousy among the other guys who aren’t would be pretty intense.

Most convincing, however, is the effect zero gravity reportedly has on male genitelia (and presumably on female genitals, as well). Blood flow just isn’t as efficient as it is on solid ground.

There are psychologists at NASA who study the emotional health of those in orbit. They admit that with longer and longer space missions being instigated, astronauts’ sexuality should be looked at more closely, as, for most people, sex plays a vital role in staying content and happy. But officially, no specifics have been bandied about, and sex remains strictly taboo.

Oh, and just in case you were wondering whether the Russian space program is more open-minded on the issue, Mir-25 flight engineer and cosmonaut Talgat Musabayev says, “A lot of different commissions—moral, ethical, and medical ones—that were discussing this finally ruled that one must not do it so far, because the consequences are unknown for those who would be born.”

As to whether there has been sex in space up to this point, he responds, “Definitely not, although there is a lot of idle talk around this. We laugh, because we just have no opportunity for this, and the Americans are very disciplined people.”

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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