to penetrate deep into realms where scientists seldom explore, NASA
biophysicist Tore Straume [profile] (Ames
Research Center), radiation expert and particle physicist Steve Blattnig
(Langley Research Center), and Cary Zeitlin [profile] (Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory),
explored the logistics of sex and
procreation in space. Their conclusions? It would be
hard -- very hard.
Would-be space colonists looking to procreate in space would have it very
rough, according to the report. One of the biggest dangers would be from
The high-energy protons encountered in deep space could harm male sperm.
They would also likely sterilize any human fetuses conceived in space.
The embryo would likely die during the second half of the pregnancy from
The only solution would be to adopt better protection, but mankind doesn't
currently have a sufficient technology. States Dr. Straume, "The
present shielding capabilities would probably preclude having a pregnancy
transited to Mars."
An even greater danger would be solar flares. Solar flares are giant
squirts of matter and energy from the sun during periods of intensely hot solar
activity. These solar events would likely bombard the space explorers with even
more radiation, raising their risk of miscarriage and infertility.
Also dangerous are high-energy cosmic rays that can travel millions of light
years and carry tremendous energy. Without a way to block these damaging
particles, they would likely pass through the spaceship, further damaging the
When it comes to solar shielding, it appears scientists still have trouble
getting it up to speed.
It is unclear whether anyone has ever had sex in space. 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. One astronaut husband and wife -- Jan Davis and Mark Lee
-- did share a flight together, but NASA and the astronauts would not reveal
whether they got their stellar groove on.
Aside from the radiation dangers, given how hard it is to move in space, it
might be hard to perform sex in a traditional manner. But mankind has
never had problems getting creative in the sack, so surely life would find a
The research is significant as many prominent scientific luminaries, like
Steven Hawking, believe that without colonizing other worlds, mankind
will likely go extinct within a few million years.
The study on sex in space was published in the peer-reviewed publication, The
Journal of Cosmology and is available for free here.