“Houston, we need a condom.”
That may sound like the opening line for a space porn movie, but it’s actually the reality that a psychologist in human sexuality warns that NASA, the ESA and other space programs need to face very soon – humans need to start having sex in space while science studies it and space colonists plan for it. Sure, there’s undoubtedly a private space company (or ten) salivating at the idea of selling tickets to billionaire couples to join a 62-Mile-High Club, but a one-time fling isn’t the same as regular consensual space coitus for the purpose of procreation (as Dr. Sheldon Cooper might say). Fortunately, Simon Dubé — PhD candidate, Psychology of Human Sexuality, Erobotics & Space Sexology, Concordia University – is our space Sheldon.
“Yet, little attention has been given to the sexological issues of human life in space. This situation is untenable considering our upcoming space missions and expansion. It is time for space organizations to embrace a new discipline, space sexology: the scientific study of extraterrestrial intimacy and sexuality.”
In “The Case for Space Sexology,” published in The Journal of Sex Research, lead author Simon Dubé chastises the major space agencies for not taking advantage of the long-term missions on the International Space Station to study the most personal of the human aspects of space travel – sex. Has there been no intimacy – emotional or physical – in 60 years of space travel? That’s highly unlikely, but Dubé and his colleagues are pushing for a long-term study with couples and/or volunteers (we’d love to see THAT recruitment ad) willing to be poked afterward by physicians and psychologists. Sex isn‘t exactly easy on Earth and Dubé, in his article in The Conversation, warns it will be even harder (mentally and emotionally, not just physically) in space.
“After all, space remains a hostile environment, and life aboard spacecrafts, stations or settlements poses significant challenges for human intimacy. These include radiation exposure, gravitational changes, social isolation and the stress of living in remote, confined habitats. In the near future, life in space may also limit access to intimate partners, restrict privacy and augment tensions between crew members in hazardous conditions where co-operation is essential.”
Sound like space travelers will need more than Netflix, wine, mood lights and chocolate to get intimate in space. TENGA, a Japanese maker of sex toys, launched one on a rocket to promote its new toy designed for male astronauts looking for solo pleasure. And of course, everyone has seen or heard about the highly suggestive penis shape of Jeff Bezos’ New Shephard rocket. While the Russian space program wants to be the first nation to have a citizen born in space, it publicly denies any past exchanges of bodily fluids on the ISS or in the tight confines of a Soyuz capsule. NASA and the ESA would undoubtedly do the same if asked officially. However, as missions get longer, space organizations need to take a missionary position on love, sex and intimate relationships in space, and design ships and habitats to accommodate it. Based on the seeming reluctance of other programs, Canadian Simon Dubé has a suggestion:
“We further propose that, given its expertise and the sociopolitical climate of Canada, the Canadian Space Agency is ideally positioned to become a world leader in space sexology. We have what it takes to pave the way for an ethical and pleasurable space journey, as we continue to boldly go where no one has gone before.”
Oh, oh, OH Canada!