Friday, October 21, 2005

What Do NASA and the Republican Party Have in Common?

Neither of them like sex. Nor, I'd wager, are any good at it:
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.

NASA plans to return astronauts to the Moon by 2018 and later on to Mars. But a round-trip mission to the Red Planet would probably last at least 30 months and carry six to eight people. That would be a hotbed for intense crew relationships, says a report by the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS).

"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.
Okay, any mission to Mars is going to need to accept that a) the crew is likely to have The Sex, and b) This shouldn't be a show-stopper. Obviously, there's problems, yadda yadda. But any serious proposal is going to have to deal with this, preferably with something better than "Just Say No To Naughty Bits." On the other hand, this is probably wrong:
But he says sex may also benefit missions by creating "a sense of stability or normalisation". Ellison agrees, saying sex or masturbation could help alleviate boredom and anxiety on the long, lonely journeys through space.
While there would probably be anxiety, one thing astronauts never are is bored. Ever look at the itinerary for a shuttle launch? Time is budgeted down to the second. Time in space is so valuable that you literally cannot afford to waste a minute, so Astronaut days are crammed tight from the time they wake up to the time they go to bed. Hell, if the crews find time for sex we should give them a medal.

1 comment:

LeoPetr said...

I think that astronauts get to relax a bit after launch once their velocity has stabilized and the engines shut off.:P