In 2021, says Mic, a Canadian team of five scientists published an opinion piece urging top companies linked to the conquest of space to “embrace a new discipline” of studies, considered essential in the scope of the projects of installation of the human species in other planets. Even a name has been given to this new as-yet-unexplored search field: “space sexology”this is to say “the scientific study of intimacy and sexuality outside Earth”.
“Science can take us to other lands, write the authors of the article, but it is human relationships that will determine whether a new civilization based on space travel is viable.” It is true that until now, if the psychology of space travelers has already been addressed, aspects related to intimate and sexual life have often been wisely left aside.
Maria Santaguida, a psychologist at Concordia University (Montreal) and co-author of the article in question, would like to point out that her group is not the first to point the finger at this thoughtless space life. For example, she cites an article related to the subject that dates from 1988. Even art began to appropriate this theme by imagining, for example, devices that allow two astronauts to copulate despite the problems linked to weightlessness, such as Wired the evoked.
In fact, on the side of space agencies, the subject remains quite taboo. Although reproductive sexuality was sometimes mentioned, sex purely for pleasure is generally not considered. This is confirmed by a NASA spokesperson, who told Mic that“it would be inappropriate to comment on this matter”. The other agencies declined to comment on this.
For observers, this silence is linked to the fact that space tourism is not a priority for agencies such as NASA and, therefore, it does not seem that sex in space constitutes an essential theme. As affective or sexual relationships between astronauts are strongly discouraged so as not to compromise any mission, there is apparently no reason to delve into the matter further.
This “no zob at work” rule was not always adhered to, as in 1992, during their training phase with NASA, astronauts Mark C. Lee and Jan Davis had a mutual crush, which resulted in a secret marriage.
So many questions
However, there are so many questions to ask besides the (admittedly important) questions about the effects of space travel on human physiology and fertility. If animal reproduction in a space environment has been studied, humans are still and always left out. The way of having sex, dealing with the constraints linked to space, or even the management of fluids, are fascinating questions, which not only arouse curiosity, but which, one day or another, will end up becoming primary concerns.
Breakthroughs on the matter may come from private companies, which are keen to do everything possible to make space tourism as rewarding as possible. At SpaceX (Elon Musk) or Blue Origin (Jeff Bezos), we’re probably asking these questions, experts say. But Musk, for example, has already made it clear that he has little interest in the effects of space on humans and is primarily concerned with sending men and women to Mars reliably, quickly, and cheaply.
It will, therefore, be necessary to wait for the implementation of the means of transport so that the issues related to permanence in space are really studied. Suffice to say, it may still be a few decades before the issue of sex in space is really taken seriously. But companies will sooner or later find themselves up against the wall, explains Dave Anctil, a Canadian scientist who signed the aforementioned column.
Still, spatial sexology will not be an easy field to explore. Setting up solid and ethical experiments risks being a challenge, as National Geographic explained in 2018. This is precisely why we must face the problem head on, as Simon Dubé, also a co-author of the article, explains. Science will certainly be able to carry out quality studies, as long as the means are put in place and the necessary time is given.