(Untitled)

Sex in space rears it’s head again (ooer): apparently NASA have sent over a pregnancy testing kit for the {astro,cosmo}nauts on the ISS. Best quote:

In his book Living in Space, Dr Stine, who died in 1997, said that Nasa staff at the Marshall Space Flight Centre in Huntsville, Alabama, had used a buoyancy tank that simulates low-gravity conditions to test the possibilities of weightless sex. “It was possible but difficult,” he said, “and was made easier when a third person assisted by holding one of the others in place.”

Say no more!

Date: Mon, 03 Sep 2001 12:06:03 +0000
From: “Martin Adamson” (spam-protected)
To: (spam-protected)
Subject: Sex in space: thin blue line keeps crews in check

The Times

MONDAY SEPTEMBER 03 2001

Sex in space: thin blue line keeps crews in check

BY MARK HENDERSON, SCIENCE CORRESPONDENT

ASTRONAUTS on the International Space Station (ISS) have been supplied with DIY pregnancy tests in case the enforced intimacy of space travel prompts mixed crews to try for the 200-mile-high club. The test sticks have been included in the station’s medical pack in one of Nasa’s first admissions that its astronauts might have sex in orbit.

Although the US space agency has always taken a prudish attitude towards such activity, the kits are intended for its aftermath: female astronauts take a pregnancy test before launch and are not allowed to fly if it is positive.

Scientists know little about the effects of space travel, particularly those of weightlessness, on human embryos and any astronaut found to have become pregnant on board the ISS would almost certainly be returned to Earth at the earliest opportunity.

The station’s present crew will not need the kits: all three are male. The crew they replaced recently, however, included a female flight engineer, Susan Helms, and the next crew but one will also have a female member, Peggy Whitson.

Details of the pregnancy test and directions on how to use it have emerged from a set of leaked Nasa documents on emergency and medical procedures obtained by the website SpaceRef.com. The documents provide astronauts on board the ISS with guidance on dealing with situations ranging from a crew-mate becoming suicidal or psychotic to diarrhoea, motion sickness, nosebleeds and dentistry. Nasa would not comment on the handbook.

Keith Cowing, editor of SpaceRef.com and a former Nasa scientist, said that the tests were clearly aimed at detecting conceptions in orbit.

“Since the crew get a good physical exam before flight, and I doubt that anyone would deliberately fly while pregnant given our sparse knowledge of what might happen, one has to assume that this test is to detect a particular medical condition that developed while the individual in question was already in space,” he said.

“There is a rather short list of ways whereby this specific condition can arise. Nasa never discusses the possibility of sex in space, but it does not look like they’re worried about what an astronaut might have done with her husband the night before launch.”

It remains unclear whether or not the 200-mile-high club already has any members. There is no suggestion that any astronauts have had sex on board the ISS since its launch in 1998, but many believe that the increasing length of time spent on board — the last crew were in space for 165 days — makes it more likely that such a relationship will develop.

Harry Stine, a former Nasa technician, said that the agency had conducted experiments in the simulated weightlessness of a flotation tank, but never in space itself. In his book Living in Space, Dr Stine, who died in 1997, said that Nasa staff at the Marshall Space Flight Centre in Huntsville, Alabama, had used a buoyancy tank that simulates low-gravity conditions to test the possibilities of weightless sex. “It was possible but difficult,” he said, “and was made easier when a third person assisted by holding one of the others in place.”

Nasa has always been coy about the idea of sex involving its astronauts, but some cosmonauts have been more forthcoming. Valeri Polyakov, who spent 14 months on Mir between 1992 and 1993, said to mission control shortly before his return: “No need to say what we are longing for.”

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2 Comments

  1. Posted December 4, 2006 at 15:28 | Permalink

    These point at an underlying perception that sex in space is somehow different. Yet, perhaps unknowingly, Woodmansee shows that sex is as natural as humans and the location doesn’t change the action, much. Further, people have a strong sexual drive that shouldn’t and really can’t be ignored. Rather, sex, such as with space tourism, may actually be a benefit to the space industry.

  2. Derek Starr
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 08:54 | Permalink

    As amusing as the idea of the “Low Earth Orbit Club” is, I personally doubt that any astronauts have ever had the time to even THINK about ‘orbital nookie’, let alone indulge in it. From what I’ve read about the mission schedules aboard Skylab and the various Shuttle missions, the astronauts are kept so busy by NASA that they sometimes don’t even have enough time to get a full night’s sleep!

    Then again, even if (as urban legends have it), NASA has done research into sex in low/zero gravity, can you honestly imagine Congress’ reaction to such a study? No wonder we’ve never heard of any hanky-panky in space.

    Of course, that doesn’t mean that someone won’t find a way to do “the deed” up there, whether for fun, profit, or simply to see if it’s possible. We all know it’s really just a matter of time and desire, after all…