Space tourism is ‘very beneficial’ for the UK say David Morris

Sci-fi films and television shows have given the impression that sex in space is just the same as here on Earth. In fact, in the 2014 TV series Extant, Halle Berry plays an astronaut who returns home pregnant after a mission in outer space. Now, however, research carried out by a British university has raised safety concerns over sex and pregnancy in space — particularly as space tourism is expected to increase in the next ten years and the fact that humans plan to live on multiple planets in the future.

A new report, carried out by Cranfield University, Bedford, has questioned whether sex in space is being “taken seriously” by the space tourism sector, led by the likes of Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin.

While some may chuckle at the suggestion, the new report, published on April 24, explained that intercourse outside the ozone layer is a “crucial question” as space tourism is expected to boom over the next decade.

A group of scientists and clinicians, led by Professor of Astrobiology and Space Biotechnology at the University, David Cullen, have examined what would happen if a pregnancy were to occur in space as it is “unrealistic” to assume all future space tourists will not give in to human nature.

The paper added: “This raises the possibility of uncontrolled human conception in space, which poses a significant risk to the emerging space tourism sector.”

Although astronauts are trained to resist those urges, the same might not be the case for space tourists.

As of March this year, almost 270 individuals from 20 countries have visited the International Space Station, according to NASA with three businessmen, each paying more than £40million for a rocket ride and accommodation last year.

Professor Cullen and his colleagues embarked on the research after finding that the sector had not considered the risks posed by sex in space, particularly as pregnancy in space is vital if we are to become a “multi-planetary species”.

They pointed out that the long-term consequences on babies conceived in space were not known which could have “detrimental outcomes” such as the development of abnormalities as well as societal and commercial issues like litigation, reputational damage, and financial loss to the companies offering trips to space.

Falling pregnant in space could see the embryo harmed by radiation which could then lead to litigation being launched against the space organisation, the experts have warned.

Therefore, it has been suggested that space tourists may have to sign legal documents agreeing to abstain from fornication during their flight in case they fall pregnant.

They concluded that the lack of research into humans having sex and procreating in space has created “an inappropriate situation that needs to be urgently addressed”.

In the future, the experts said the “motivations” behind sexual activity during spaceflight should be considered as well as further examination of contraception.

Over the years, NASA and the Russian Space Agency have insisted that no humans have ever had sex in space.

However, a similar case to Professor Cullen’s work was made by Canadian academics in 2021 which argued that space organisations should look into “space sexology” if humans are to build civilizations in space.

They wrote: “Love and sex are central to human life. Despite this, national and private space organisations are moving forward with long-term missions to the International Space Station, the moon, and Mars without any concrete research and plan to address human eroticism in space.”

Musk revealed on Twitter last year that he has plans for humans to set foot on Mars by as early as 2029, a journey that would take several months.

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The world’s first space tourist, then 60-year-old American businessman and financial analyst Dennis Tito, set off in 2001, forking out £20million or $34.1million today (£27.34million) to fly onboard the Russian Soyuz spacecraft to spend a week at the International Space Station.

Last year, TIME reported that the now 82-year-old and with his wife, Akiko, will be heading to the moon on board Mr Musk’s SpaceX Starship spacecraft with up to ten other passengers. How much the couple are forking out for the once-in-a-lifetime holiday has not been disclosed.

Over the next decade, space tourism is expected to boom with flights lasting from days to weeks. Just last year, Axiom Mission 1 flew four astronauts International Space Station for more than a fortnight, using a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft.

The Cranfield University paper is being discussed later this week at a space tourism conference in the US.

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