Red, hot job opportunity
A married couple is being sought for a 16-month mission around Mars. They should be "resilient, even-keel, and able to maintain a happy attitude in the face of adversity," writes initiator Inspiration Mars Foundation who hope to blast off in 2018.
What’s not mentioned: the couple will have to maintain their relationship in a place where few – if any – have had sex before.
The couple will also need to avoid reproduction. ‘Sex in space may make for some messed up space babies’ cites a recent study about how weightlessness negatively influences cellular exchange. The resulting ‘traffic jams’ are linked to neural diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.
And of course, the chosen couple will have to be very careful not to gunk up essential equipment with residue.
The cosmic rumour mill
Whether humans have ever had sex in the cosmos remains a mystery. Rumours began in 1982 when Soviet cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya was sent to the Salyut 7 space station for a week. Her four male colleagues greeted her with the offering of an apron. This gesture likely helped keep their relations coldly professional.
Later in 1992, the married Americans Mark Lee and Jan Davis served together on the Space Shuttle Endeavor. Now divorced, they remain tight-lipped about what may have happened behind closed hatches.
The final taboo
Everyone agrees that Zero-G sex has challenges. “For one thing, zero gravity can induce nausea—a less-than-promising sign for would-be lovers. Astronauts also perspire a lot in flight, meaning sex without gravity would likely be hot, wet, and surrounded by small droplets of sweat,” according to ‘Do Astronauts Have Sex?’
“In addition, people normally experience lower blood pressure in space, which means reduced blood flow, which means … well, you know what that means.”
Some self-styled space sexperts have addressed the need for “third-party tech support” according to the ‘The Zero-G Spot’. “Otherwise it's just going to be a wild flailing."
“The prevailing workaround is the Three Dolphin Technique, proposed by sci-fi author G. Harry Stine, who claimed that dolphins mate in threes: a male and female pair off while a third nudges the couple together to avert coitus interruptus.”
Other sexperts are designing special suits. Or they recommend keeping it simple: "Bungee cords or Velcro will be the easiest way to go. As long as one of you is stationary, leverage and thrust is possible."
Reaching for the stars
The Russians remain particularly optimistic about the future of space sex. But they also stress that obsessing about sex is not part of the cosmonaut mind-set.
"It requires a lot of motivation and determination to become a cosmonaut. This is why a space flyer just won’t have time to be concerned about sex in space. A person who might experience such a problem in flight will most likely be a passenger on a spacecraft: a journalist, a politician or just a tourist," observes space sex expert Dr Lyubov Serova from the Russian Institute for Biomedical Problems.
On a logistical level, the doctor sees no huge problems. "Sometimes when I see magazines for adults I am getting really astonished by human sexual creativity in terms of positions and ways of making sex. Weightlessness certainly won’t be any kind of obstacle for modern people," he says reassuringly.
"If one person is attracted by the other, nothing will stop them from having nice and harmonic sexual relations, regardless of where they are – on Earth, or in space."
To the stars!
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