90 Miles From Tyranny : Big Bang: The science of sex in space

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Big Bang: The science of sex in space

With long-term space travel moving ever closer to reality, would-be spacefarers may be wondering if they'll be able to join the 10,000 Mile High Club.

In the first episode of the space drama "The Expanse," two characters are getting busy when the artificial gravity malfunctions. Elegantly, the pair floats up into the air, their cosmic coitus uninterrupted by the glitch, until the gravity slams back on and they collapse onto the bed below.

As it turns out, sex in microgravity is a bit more complicated than that and other onscreen depictions might have you believe.

With NASA, the European Space Agency and other outfits declining to address the subject of hanky-panky in space, the official position seems to be that there has never, ever been any. (If there has, nobody's talking, not even the only married astronaut couple to have been in space together, NASA's Mark Lee and Jan Davis). It's also possible, though, that nobody has had space sex -- and for good reason.

It would be fiddly, tricky and messy. But it wouldn't be completely impossible.

Astronauts who've spent six months on the space station may or may not already know that. But what about the rest of us? Will we be able to enjoy vacation sex on those upcoming space tourism journeys? More importantly, can we propagate the species once we've started colonizing the universe? 

Two to tango

First things first: You have to be able to contain your motion sickness. NASA's Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker, used for parabolic flight for microgravity training, isn't called the Vomit Comet for nothing. But it is possible to become acclimated to microgravity, as the pilots who fly the Vomit Comet have proven. By the time astronauts are sent to the International Space Station, they've gotten used to weightlessness too.

OK, good. They're probably not going to ralph on their partner should they engage in some microgravity nookie. Tick that one off the list.

But can lovers hovering above Earth really go at it as gracefully as they do in this...
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