"Because in Cyberspace, no one can hear you scream."
Saturday, October 29, 2005
[Media Source*] (Hat Tip: In The Agora)
(New Scientist Space) Sex and romantic entanglements among astronauts could derail missions to Mars and should therefore be studied by NASA, warns a top-level panel of US researchers. [...]
"With the prospect of a very long-term mission, it's hard to ignore the question of sexuality," says Lawrence Palinkas, a medical anthropologist at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, an author of the report. It reviewed NASA's plans for research to keep astronauts safe and healthy in space--but the plans make no mention of sexual issues in spaceflight.
This may be a major problem for NASA and any other country planning long term trips towards Mars and other worlds. Sending cross gender crews throughout the cosmos who are confined to small quarters could result in unforeseen circumstances that may complicate measures beyond what the mission originally called for (as to how would you treat a pregnant woman in space and who would deliver a baby once the crew lands?).
Although this may sound a bit premature to be worrying about such issues, sex can make crew members uncomfortable and could potentially lead towards violence.
(New Scientist Space) Sexual harassment may also endanger a mission. In an 8-month space station simulation on Earth in 2000, a Russian man twice tried to kiss a Canadian woman researcher just after two other Russians had gotten into a bloody brawl. As a result, locks were installed between the Russian and international crews' compartments.
Carol Rinkleib Ellison, a psychologist who specializes in sexuality and intimacy (from Oakland, California) has suggested that NASA evaluate taking couples into outer space which may help reduce the tension and help crew mates reduce the stress of "cabin fever." Although it may sound reasonable to evaluate astronauts in this fashion, this may be uncomfortable for couples as they are constantly being monitored by instruments attached to their body (not to mention protection as well from radiation).
Although overlooked NASA will probably will examine a test scenario on the lunar surface, and see how people interact in close quarters. Hopefully this issue can be resolved, as it would be a shame that humanity could not explore the cosmos because of a "few bad relationships."
Image Credit: Photo from Red Nova.
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