Sex in Space: Imagine the Possibilities

How human the up-and-coming business of space tourism will be! Early space tourists will marvel at the view, but as orbital vacations become more affordable, space tourists will include couples who want to experience space and weightlessness together. Sex in Space is the "killer app" that will transform space tourism into a mega business. Making love with a view of the Earth below may be the ultimate aphrodisiac for space buffs. But, let's think about the implications of space-based sex for a moment. The sex-in-space revolution is about to begin!

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Many have wondered what it might be like to make love in space. The passionate couples who book flights to the very first space hotel will be more than excited to try zero-g sex. From what I've learned while working on my soon-to-be-released book, Sex in Space, I've come to the conclusion that honeymoons in space and out-of-this-world sex will be a reality within a decade.

Some people believe that space sex will be a frustrating experience and that lovers will give up. No way! Weightless couples will find a way to get together. I've written an entire chapter in my Sex in Space book where I suggest ways to, shall we say, accomplish things, but it's too much to cover here. I'm not advocating that people go into space and have casual sex. I'm advocating that people take romantic vacations in space with their significant other, preferably their soul mate. The bottom line is that sex in space will probably take some practice and hard work at first. Since people are very creative, I have no doubt that it will make for a wonderful otherworldly experience.

On a cautionary note, men and women in their childbearing years will need to be careful not to conceive a child while in space since it may be dangerous to the mother and baby. Based on animal experiments, we know that fetal development is affected in space. Bones, muscles (including the heart), and neurology, will simply not develop properly without Earth gravity. We also know that human hormones and even sperm motility are affected by the lack of gravity. Radiation is a serous problem too, even in Earth orbit where our magnetic field protects us somewhat.

What we don't know is how conception may be affected in humans. There are so many questions that need to be answered. For example, is human conception in space even possible? Will a fertilized embryo attach properly to the uterus wall? Are life-threatening ectopic pregnancies more likely in weightlessness? How will reentry acceleration affect a mother and fetus? Are the higher radiation levels of Earth orbit likely to cause problems with the first cell divisions? It may be perfectly safe to conceive in orbit, but we just don't know enough to take that chance with the health and happiness of a child.

To prevent pregnancy, couples may rely on oral contraceptives, but there is no proof that this method of birth control will be effective in space. Many drugs that are effective on Earth don't work as well, or at all, in space. Tests on astronauts in orbit suggest that some drugs aren't absorbed as well in zero gravity.

We simply need to know more. We need more research into conception and fetal development in animals, especially primates, before we can feel comfortable enough to conceive human space babies. NASA is drastically cutting back its biology programs to make more money available for Moon missions, so the money just isn't available. I'm afraid that the first experiment will be done unintentionally by space honeymooners, and with tragic results.

Sex in space will happen, and therefore it's a legitimate topic to explore. The sex drive is a basic part of our nature. It drives sex and love, the expansion of our families, and even our exploration of the unknown.  We can't afford to be ashamed of sex. That will only prevent us from looking into the risks and possibilities. If we are to follow our hearts and create a civilization in space, we will need to address the possibilities of sex and reproduction in Earth orbit and beyond. Think about it, the first space babies will be space aliens in some ways.

The sex in space revolution is about to begin, and that's wonderful. But before it does, we need to be sure that we know what we're doing. I call on all the space agencies, especially NASA, to do more testing. It would be easy, for example, to test the blood of women astronauts who are on oral contraceptives while in space to measure the drug's effectiveness in orbit. If the space agencies are unwilling, then it's up to the personal spaceflight companies to take responsibility before sending couples on orbital honeymoons.

Laura S. Woodmansee is a science journalist and the author of three space books, Women Astronauts, Women of Space: Cool Careers on the Final Frontier and the soon-to-be-published Sex in Space . Laura can be contacted via her web site at

NOTE: The views of this article are the author's and do not reflect the policies of the National Space Society.

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