As space tourism edges ever closer to becoming a reality, one company is putting in the work to answer some of the most difficult problems that humankind will face in the quest to become an interplanetary species.
It’s bigger than the mechanics of how we might exist beyond the bounds of the planet or the philosophical idea of being alone in the universe. This one goes right to the heart of the human condition: can we have a wank in space?
“Humans will need to be able to masturbate in space to preserve mental well-being, reproduce, or live happily out of Earth,” says global pleasure brand We-Vibe.
Together with a team of researchers at Erobotics Research Consulting, the sex toy company have released a report into the realities and practicalities of getting off while getting off the planet.
They claim that there is a lot of work to be done, that a lack of research and taboo has prevented, in getting humans to start having space orgasms.
Can Humans Have Sex In Space?
NASA claims that no one has had sex in space, despite the fact that a secretly married couple once made it into space on a mission together, skirting the NASA ban. However, life beyond our space rock is going to need people and, if we’re serious about long-term space tourism, people are going to need to know the effects of space on the reproductive system, something we know shockingly little about. Plus, what’s the point of spending millions of dollars on a space honeymoon if you can’t consummate the marriage?
In fairness, a lot has been written on the subject of sex in space. Famous science fiction author Isaac Asimov was writing about the possibilities quite positively way back in 1973. In reality, doing the deed above the planet is almost impossibly difficult, as the laws of gravity mean you’d be constantly propelled away from your partner.
“You would probably almost have to velcro yourself together to make it easier, just as they do for sleeping – they Velcro themselves to the wall,” Dr Brad Tucker, an Astronomer from the Australian National University, told the ABC.
Research into the ability to reproduce in space isn’t great either. So far, five species have done it up above but it appears that hormone levels are interfered with in zero-gravity in such a way that makes carrying to term highly risky.
Self-love is a different matter and while no NASA astronaut has yet admitted to any space sessions, Ron Garon said on Reddit “I know of nothing that happens to the human body on Earth that can’t happen in space” when asked whether erections happen in outer space.
A retired Soviet cosmonaut named Valeri Polyakov wrote in his diary that “Psychological Support Service sent us some nice, ‘colourful’ movies which help to recover our will, to act like a normal adult male. There is nothing to be ashamed of.”
In 2014, research by Marjorie Jenkins, a NASA advisor and expert on sex and gender health, found that male ejaculation in space was essential to avoid the bacteria building up in the prostate.
“While reproductive functions have not been a direct concern during space travel, diseases of organs of the reproductive system have adversely affected flight duration,” she wrote.
“Little is known about sexual activity in space, and infrequent ejaculation resulting in accumulation of prostate secretions can support bacterial growth. Hence, the risk of prostatitis may well need to be addressed again during prolonged exploratory travel.”
So, while it sounds technically possible, it doesn’t sound like joining the 200-mile high club is going to be very easy unless you want to go it alone. Of course, if you can have sex in space, you can definitely film it.
In 2015, PornHub started a fundraiser to collect US$3.4 million to finance a porn shoot in space. Unfortunately, the idea never got off the ground, and Virgin Galactic has also rejected a $1 million offer to film a sex scene in space.
The closest mankind has ever got to filming porn in space is a 20-second clip filmed in a zero-gravity plane way back in the year 2000. Seems like we have a long way to go.
So, What Do We Do About It?
We-Vibe and Erobotics Research Consulting have been putting their heads together to figure the issue out. They recently released the first part of their “Sex Tech in Space?” report, arguing that investing in sex technology would be the most effective solution to being “sexually fulfilled in orbit”.
Johanna Rief, Head of Sexual Empowerment at We-Vibe, has said that “The lack of research and huge taboo treatment when it comes to space orgasms makes it hard to test our products in real space conditions, but we already have technology that could help overcome some of these challenges”.
“Some of our wearable toys such as the We-Vibe Bond and Moxie, for example, can be easily worn inside space suits, providing discreet and private pleasurable sensations. It is clear that the big dollars that We-Vibe spends in R&D for sex tech on Earth can help people reach stronger orgasms in space and feel more sexually fulfilled”.
“Unfortunately, the publicly funded space agencies don’t address this topic often enough, probably due to fear of stigma-related backlash. It would be great to see those bodies reach private market leaders in sex tech like We-Vibe for consultation and address sexuality as a normal part of human life in space to come up with effective and practical solutions”.
The company has said that, like on Earth, masturbation in space is “important for our well-being or sexual health”. If we want to construct livable environments in outer space, sexuality too needs to be taken into account.
The report quotes Professor Paul Root Wolpe, a senior bioethicist at NASA, questioning in 2015 whether or not it’s fair to deprive people of masturbation.
“There is a point where the length of time [on a mission] becomes part of the question of whether or not it’s fair to deprive people of this aspect of being human,” he wrote.
Using remote sex toys in space could be another way of allowing astronauts to feel close with their partners back home and maintain healthy relationships. The idea is not so far-fetched, and indeed, has already been explored by Russian cosmonauts.
Polyakov claimed that he was encouraged to pack an inflatable sex doll for his 14-month stint alone on the Mir space station. However, the Russian said that he “strongly opposed such a solution. A person who is using such things may develop so-called ‘doll syndrome’ or, in other words, start preferring the doll to their own spouse or loved one, even after they return to Earth.”
Perhaps the remote sex tech could be the perfect answer for someone like Polyakov with similar concerns.
While adaptations of the technology might still be required, Johanna Rief said that “We-Vibe toys are couple-oriented and can already be used by long-distance couples on Earth thanks to Bluetooth and our We-Connect app”.
“We also developed haptic mechanics in the remote of our We-Vibe Chorus couple vibrator, which responds to grip pressure to control vibration intensity. With enough connectivity adaptations, there’s no reason why a partner on Earth couldn’t control the toy of an astronaut on Mars and vice-versa through our app”.