Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sex in Space: How to do it right

As humans spend more time in space, low gravity sex is inevitable.

As Wired's Regina Lynn has pointed out:

We need to acknowledge that humans will bring our sexuality with us into space and that includes all the complexities of relationships as well as the relatively simple matter of bodies. NASA cannot avoid confronting those complexities, especially now that the public knows even astronauts sometimes confuse obsession with love.

"How long can humans go without sex?" is not the right question.

I don't care if you have a same-sex crew of great-grandparents who have never had a flicker of sexual desire in their entire lives. Lock a group of humans into a ship, sail them through space and time, and it won't take long for that deep, ancient need for touch and intimacy to surface.

As a recent article at Space.com points out, that's certainly the case at the McMurdo research station in Antarctica, which received a delivery of 16,500 condoms shortly before their six month winter set in. NASA, on the other hand, seems to be uncomfortable with the whole idea of sex.
"We don't study sexuality in space, and we don't have any studies ongoing with that," said NASA spokesman Bill Jeffs of the Johnson Space Center in Houston. "If that's your specific topic, there's nothing to discuss," he added, referring to "sex in space."
It seems short-sighted for NASA to assume that astronauts will be too "mission-oriented" for sex to be an issue. On a three-year mission to Mars it doesn't seem likely that astronauts will be working all that time. The Space.com article also appears to assume that any such relationships will be between men and women, and while it's probably safe to assume that most astronauts are heterosexual, it's also likely that some are not. It seems like it is important to work out all the potential issues before a sending a group of astronauts off for several years in a small spacecraft.

And then there's the actual mechanics of sex in space. Early 21st century astronauts don't have the luxury of comfortable quarters with full gravity like the crew of the Enterprise. Instead they'll have to contend with cramped spaces and maneuvering in microgravity. Laura Woodmansee, author of Sex in Space, has suggested possible sexual positions that would work "from the modified missionary position to seated with 'interlocking Y legs'. Sounds like it could be tricky, but I'm sure with a little experimentation and practice all the kinks will be worked out. If you really want to bone up a bit more on the topic, you might want to read Violet Blue's howto:sex in space at her open source sex blog (NSFW).

[note: all puns intended]

Image: 2suit designed by writer and space enthusiast Vanna Bonta, as published on MSNBC.com


  1. "Lock a group of humans into a ship, sail them through space and time, and it won't take long for that deep, ancient need for touch and intimacy to surface."
    Quite right,an interesting post on a serious issue of neglected priority.

  2. With NASA, it's "Don't ask, don't tell" :-) .


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