Updated 30 May 2018

Have astronauts ever had sex in space?

While the idea sounds intriguing, exciting and quite exotic, sex in space is much harder than we can possibly imagine.

Sex can be wild and raunchy, passionate and intense, but usually takes place in a familiar environment. Just think of how exciting it would be to touch, pause and engage in a completely unfamiliar setting... like space.

While sex in space may sound like a thrilling idea, in practical terms it might however be much harder than one would think.

One of the greatest forces of nature humans are subjected to is gravity. While you're trying to get into the "space groove", the total lack of gravity makes it hard for two bodies to connect. Lack of gravity can cause nausea, dizziness, perspiration and exhaustion as well.

In space we also run the risk of muscle degeneration and weakening bones, to the point where they can snap. In addition, your usual sleep cycles – your circadian rhythm – gets completely out of sync, resulting in sleep deprivation and severe mood swings.

Lazy cardiovascular system

Another natural force that will go awry is your circulation, which will make it harder to get those "juices flowing". On earth, gravity keeps your body fluids where they belong, but in space you may end up looking like a look like a blowfish, because your face will swell – as will your heart. And a swollen heart will lower your pulse rate and slow down your circulation. 

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), says that the cardiovascular system gets lazy in space, and that this poses a serious hazard when astronauts return to Earth and experience gravity again. 

A team of scientists at the University of Waterloo in Canada developed an experimental programme – the Cardiovascular and Cerebrovascular Control on Return from the International Space Station (CCISS). The purpose of this ongoing experiment – in space and on earth – is for scientists to discover the best practices to mitigate the effects of very little to no gravity on the cardio- and cerebrovascular systems of astronauts.

These are the conditions South African spaceman, Mark Shuttleworth, had to contend with when he became a space tourist in 2002.

Of course, there are other factors, like privacy, which could be an issue for astronauts, as space shuttles don't have separate bedrooms for each team member.

Preserving the species

Being able to have sex in space is, however, an important skill we may need to master if we were to perpetuate the human species and inhabit other planets.

Vanna Bonta, an Italian-American actress, writer, space enthusiast, inventor and wannabee space sexologist, explored the idea of making intercourse in space a little easier, by developing a suit to keep two people stuck together, using Velcro.

Space sex suit

There was an episode of the documentary The Universe dubbed Sex in Space which documented Bonta and her husband, Allen Newcome, testing the suit on a zero-gravity aircraft.

Bonta and her husband had been on the aircraft when it was first launched and when she tried getting closer to her husband, she realised that getting and staying close to someone when there is no gravity is almost impossible.

Just being able to kiss her husband was severely challenging. It was this experience which inspired Bonta's special suit.

During the test, Bonta and Newcome were however challenged by the amount of time they were given to test the efficacy of the suit, and she said that she would want to test it over a longer period of zero-gravity.

As Bonta died in 2014, we will unfortunately never know the result of any further tests...

Image credit: iStock




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