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With the manned mission to Mars planned in the coming years, NASA has been devoting much attention to many of the nuances of long-term space travel. But some are concerned that NASA has not spent enough energy exploring one important area which has the potential to greatly impact a crew’s physical and psychological health: Sex.

When a mixed-gender crew is sealed into a tiny metal-and-plastic capsule for months on end, some sexual interaction is inevitable. The crew members are, after all, human. Researchers are now urging NASA to become as informed as possible on the specifics of space sex on such a long, close-quarters mission.

From the article:

Ellison says NASA should study the likely effects of taking couples up on long missions, as well as issues of sexual orientation and fertility. She suggests individual differences in sex drive could also be used to choose crews for Mars missions.

“One could perhaps select for people who seem to have less need for sex, or at least don’t use sex as a form of self-validation,” Ellison says.

Beyond that, she adds, NASA should consider the practical issues of out-of-this world sex. “How do you have sex in weightlessness?” she ask. “And there’s a lack of privacy – often they’re monitoring pulse rate and temperature. I don’t know how that would be handled.”

The research would be worthwhile, and I seriously doubt that there would be shortage of willing, excited volunteers for such a project.

New Scientist article