Love and rockets: We need to figure out how to have sex in space for human survival and well-being

This article was first published by The Conversation.'s Expert voices: Op-Ed and Insights was contributed by the publication.
Simon Dub, PhD Candidat, Psychology of Human Sexuality and Erobotics & Spa Sexology, Concordia University

Dave Anctil, Chercheur affili l'Observatoire international sur les impacts socitaux de lintelligence artificielle et du numrique (OBVIA), Universit Laval

Judith Lapierre Professor, Faculty of Nursing Science at Universit Laval

Lisa Giaccari Research Assistant, Concordia Vision Laboratory at Concordia University

Maria Santaguida PhD Candidate in Psychology at Concordia University

Houston! We have a problem! Space organizations aren't ready to allow love and sex to take place in space, if we want to travel long distances and become interplanetary species.

SpaceX and NASA are both national space agencies. However, they do not address the intimate and sexual needs for future astronauts.

This is a serious problem and must be corrected if we want to establish new worlds and expand our reach in the universe. We need to learn how safe to reproduce in space and how to create intimate and pleasurable lives. Space organizations must adopt a new approach to space exploration. They should consider humans as whole beings, with their needs and desires.

We propose that space programs embrace space sexology as a comprehensive scientific study of extraterrestrial sexuality and intimacy.

The last, most intimate frontier

Human life is centered on love and sex. Despite this, both national and private space agencies are continuing to pursue long-term missions to Mars, the International Space Station (ISS), and the moon. However there is no concrete research or plans for human eroticism in space. It's one thing for rovers to be landed on another planet, or to launch billionaires into orbit. But it's quite another for humans to be able to live in space over extended periods of time.

Although rocket science can take us to outer space in practice, it is human relationships that will determine whether we survive and prosper as a spacefaring civilisation. We believe that space intimacy could be detrimental to astronauts' mental and sexual health, as well as crew performance and mission success. Space eroticism, on the other hand could allow humans to adapt to space life and improve the well-being future space inhabitants.

Space is a hostile environment and space is a place where intimacy can be difficult. These include radiation exposure, gravitational change, social isolation, and the stress that comes with living in confined, remote habitats. Space travel may limit the access to intimate partners, reduce privacy, and increase tensions among crew members.

However, the topic of sex in space has been almost entirely ignored by space programs. Most studies on this topic focus on the effects of radiation and hypergravity on animal reproduction (rodents and amphibians), but there are a few.

Continue reading: Space sex: Can technology satisfy astronauts' intimate needs

Taboo and pleasure

Human sexuality goes beyond reproduction. Complex psychological, emotional, and relational dynamics are all part of human sexuality. Sex and love are pursued for pleasure and fun. Space exploration requires that you have the courage and the holistic ability to meet the intimate needs of humanity.

Abstaining is not an option. However, astronauts could benefit from partnering sex or masturbation to relax, sleep, and relieve pain. It may also allow them to establish and maintain romantic or sexual relationships, and help them adapt to space life.

It is important to note that addressing the sexological concerns of human life in space could help combat sexism and discrimination, as well as sexual violence or harassment. These issues are unfortunately still prevalent in both science and military, the two pillars of the space program.

Some organizations might choose to ignore the reality of space intimacy and sexuality because they are conservative and have taboos. This may lead them to believe that it is not a problem or that they have more important matters to address. This attitude is not a good idea, as producing high-quality science takes time and resources. Sexual health, including pleasure, is becoming a human right.

This means that both space agencies and private corporations may be held responsible for the sexual and reproductive health of their passengers in space.

Space organizations that submit to their conservative funders are likely to pay the price for their inaction when disaster strikes. The organizations that haven't tried to address human eroticism while in space or who knowingly fail to do the required research and take precautions as requested by scientists for over 30 years may be the ones that will get the hammer.

Intimacy beyond Earth

Space organizations must recognize the importance and stop avoiding sexual topics in order to move forward.

We encourage them to make space sexology a scientific field.

The Canadian Space Agency, with its knowledge and sociopolitical climate, is well-positioned to be a global leader in space sexology. As we boldly explore new frontiers, we have the ability to make space a more ethical and enjoyable experience.

This article was republished by The Conversation under Creative Commons. You can read the original article.

Follow Expert Voices to keep up with the debates and issues. You can also join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter. These views are the author's and may not reflect those of the publisher.