the mile high club goes orbital

Sex in space will be both an inevitability and necessity. We should be studying it a lot more than we do today.
sexy astronaut
Illustration by Valeriy Kachaev/123rf

We know that sex in space is inevitable. With planned space hotels, multi-year trips to other worlds on the drawing boards and decades of science fiction stories about how humans colonize deep space over many generations, it’s just a matter of who will be the first to have sex during a spaceflight and when it will happen. You can almost see the rush of space tourists eager to be the first humans to get it on in zero gravity and you can safely bet that the event will be recorded with a high definition camera for all the world to see…

When most people think of sex in space, they picture humans reinventing the Kama Sutra in a weightless environment. The reality is going to be much more awkward. An important note to make is that the heart doesn’t work as efficiently in microgravity as it does on Earth so a male astronaut might have some difficulties in preparing for the act. Space sickness and problems with orientation that occur during weightlessness might also put a damper on things. It’s hard to keep going when both of you feel dizzy, nauseous and have pounding headaches. Finally, if you’re an aspiring space adventurer who wants to join the 60 mile high club, you should keep an open mind when it comes to bondage because chances are, you’ll be tied up or at the very least, strapped to something sturdy so the tiniest bit of contact between you and your partner doesn’t send you flying across the spacecraft.

It’s more likely that sex in space will really take off when we start building ships which rotate to simulate at least some gravity and assembling outposts on the Moon and on Mars. Amorous astronauts of the future would get the best of both worlds; gravity to make the process easier while being just light enough to try some creative new positions which simply wouldn’t work in a 1G environment. Again, the key here is the size of the habitat and an emphasis on comforts we take for granted on Earth. Ultimately, having sex on a space mission or on an alien world is going to do wonders for the psyche and morale of future astronauts who might be looking at spending several years away from their home planet. We know from many clinical studies that people who have sexually fulfilling lives are healthier and happier than those who don’t.

But there’s a catch and it comes into play if astronauts want to have kids while they’re still on a mission. The human body isn’t suited to the conditions we find in space. Children born on the Moon or Mars can’t stay there for very long. There is a risk their bones and muscles would try to adapt to lower gravity and eventually be unable to cope with Earth’s pull. There’s a constant threat of mutagenic radiation and cosmic rays that can trigger alarming rates of birth defects and cancers, something that should give serious pause to any would be space parent. To raise new generations away from Earth would have to be a coordinated effort involving quite a bit of family planning and teams of pediatricians on standby. Finally, there’s a potential risk of STDs mutating into much more potent strains as they’re exposed to high levels of radiation, though they could also lose their potency by the same natural processes.

So what can we make of humans having sex in space? At first, space would just be a new place to have sex, kind of like a motel room in the middle of nowhere or a secluded nature park. But in due time, as humans begin living on other worlds and spend years upon years in space, it’ll be an important issue that will need plenty of attention from medical experts to ensure that our future astronauts and their children are healthy and safe.

# sex // sex / space exploration / space tourism

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