Sex in Space Will Not Be Safe Sex

The sex in space fantasy takes another hit, this time from a research study published in PLOS ONE.

The academic paper is entitled “Cell Wall Assembly and Intracellular Trafficking in Plant Cells Are Directly Affected by Changes in the Magnitude of Gravitational Acceleration”. That doesn’t sound like it’s about fucking, does it? Fortunately, pop science journalists have done the translation. “Bad news for the 220-mile high club” explains Daily Mail.

Experiments on plants show changes in gravity damages cells – and could lead to life-threatening illnesses.

A study found gravity modulates cell ‘highway traffic’ that ensures the growth and functionality of the male reproductive organ in plants – the pollen tube.

And plant pollen tubes are sort of like human penises. I guess. People often ask: Have any astronauts had sex in space yet? Based on this study, a preliminary question might be: Have any male astronauts had erections in space yet? Good, solid, usable erections? Has anyone even succeeded in masturbating in space?

Study co-author Anja Geitmann says:

Researchers already knew humans, animals and plants have evolved in response to Earth’s gravity and they are able to sense it.

What we are still discovering is how the processes occurring within the cells of the human and plant bodies are affected by the more intense gravity, or hypergravity, that would be found on a large planet, or the microgravity that resembles the conditions on a space craft.

Keeping human bodies alive and functioning in outer space is difficult. Before the futurist dreams of off-Earth colonies or longterm space travel can come true, there are all sorts of basic how-not-to-die issues that we haven’t even begun to figure out.

UPDATE: Thanks to Ayzad for this reassuring link — Is Space Sex Lethal? — wherein study co-author Anja Geitmann debunks the pop science party pooper version of her own research. “The dangers associated with (human) sex in space are not higher than those associated with any other space-travel related activity. As long as you bring condoms and straps.” Cool!