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SYFY WIRE astronauts

So, uh, how are astronauts going to get in the mood in space?

By Elizabeth Rayne
Dolores from Westworld

There is something not even NASA, an agency that swears it’s going to put boots on the moon about four years from now, will bring up. You guessed it. Astronaut sex.

However alien astronauts look in those marshmallow space suits, they remain human. Humans have needs. Our species needs food, water, breathable air—and sex. Has anyone ever done it in space? If so, we have no idea, and NASA isn’t talking. Voyages to the Moon and Mars are going to mean long periods in isolation with almost zero chance for physical or emotional intimacy. Astronauts can’t just go and pick their crew on a dating site.

Never mind NASA’s refusal to talk about the subject. Seems the Federation of the Star Trek universe was a lot more open, if Riker’s many and sometimes bizarre bedroom escapades say anything. If humans are going to spend extended periods of time away from Earth and possibly end up colonizing space as Elon Musk imagines, we are going to have to put aside conventional taboos and think in terms of science and sex tech.

Erobotics is exactly what it sounds like. Erotic robotics is a new field of research encompassing everything from sex droids that can also connect with you on a personal level to augmented reality that can fulfill some very human needs when astronauts, and eventually colonists, are on spacecraft or alien territory. Erobots can be everything from 3D uncanny-valley humanoids a la Westworld (above) to erotic chatbots or virtual and augmented partners that can fulfill a need just about anyone would have on Earth. Of course, there are scientists who disagree, but some are inevitably going to.

Virtual partners that went from pixels to flesh and blood aren’t new on this planet. The computer game Second Life allows you to create a human avatar that exists in an online world. What separates Second Life from couples who meet on other gaming sites, because we all have that friend who met someone playing World of Warcraft, is that there is no fantasy element. It’s real human life lived on the internet. In the YouTube documentary Love Made in Second Life, the amount of detail that goes into creating visual digital romance—including virtually moving in—is unreal.

Say that actual sex happens in space. There are some issues that come up that would make NASA cringe, but when you factor out gravity, they become something that has to be dealt with.

Bodily fluids are still fluids. There’s a reason why the brains behind the project that sent cookies into space, who are now dreaming up what else can be cooked up there, are staying away from whatever could make too much of a mess without gravity to hold it down. Fluids float in microgravity like anything else. Water droplets in space may look kind of mesmerizing, but that hypnotic factor would probably go away real fast if you knew that wasn’t water (and possibly a biohazard).

Another issue that comes with the whole anti-gravity thing is, well, bodies staying in place. It probably wouldn’t be too pleasurable to get that close to someone when you’re floating around, desperately trying to stay in one position (whatever that is) when microgravity has other ideas. Will there need to be special beds that make up for the lack of gravity with attachments that accommodate such a thing? If so, what materials can these attachments be made of that will not make people feel like they’re wearing a straitjacket?

There are still a lot of unknowns here, but NASA’s insistence on staying PG-13 isn’t helping. Science needs to get up close and personal with sex tech if we don’t want intimacy to be restricted to Earth.

(via The Conversation)