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This week’s blog post is a shameless exhortation to go and read something else! Specifically a beautiful piece by John le Carré (real name David Cornwell) which was originally delivered as part of this year’s award ceremony… Read More
Obviously not. The high-minded reason to think about this is that future deep space exploration missions are likely to take decades, possibly generations. In other words, for these missions to succeed, man will need to boldly do it where he has never done it before.
Anybody who has ever seen any video clip from, say, life at the International Space Station, will appreciate the practical difficulties involved. Tasks that are extremely simple on Earth immediately become fiendishly difficult in zero gravity. Brushing your teeth without spraying tiny water bubbles all through your living space is hard enough. In space, once a body is put in motion in one direction, it will keep moving that way. Not the ideal pre-conditions for sex as we know it.
The good news is that, perhaps unsurprisingly, great minds have long gone to work on this issue, and a practical solution has been found… by an American author and actress called
Vanna Bonta. Appropriately, it is called the 2suit, and it does exactly what it says on the tin: it’s a space suit just wide enough for two, plus a bit of wriggling room (but not too much of it).
This is no mere theoretical construct either, in the way that, say, Leonardo da Vinci drew the first helicopter. No, a working model of the 2suit was produced in 2008 and, well, tested in an episode of the History Channel series ‘The Universe’. The suit has internal harnesses, it has external fasteners to attach it in a fixed position, it has zippers, it has Velcro surfaces. Everything has been thought of. In short, it’s a screaming triumph of human engineering over adverse conditions.
Worries have been voiced about whether the dreary and sterile space environment might prevent sufficient sexual stimulation for potential participants. However, no lesser authority than Michael Collins, of Apollo 11 fame, provides full reassurance on the subject, and more. In his autobiography, he writes “…Imagine a spacecraft of the future, with a crew of a thousand ladies, off for Alpha Centauri, with 2,000 breasts bobbing beautifully and quivering delightfully in response to every weightless movement…” … and I will spare you the lurid passage that follows. Zero gravity clearly seems to have an upside.
Given over 50 years of manned space exploration, and the ubiquitous human curiosity about all things sexual, are we really still a species of space virgins? Well, officially we are, but there are serious indications to the contrary. One such is Space Shuttle mission STS-47 in September 1992, in which married couple Mark C. Lee and N. Jan Davis were both crew members, both incidentally responsible for a series of life science experiments. One cannot exactly expect a US government agency under a Republican presidency to put out an official press release, but surely…
Thankfully, a promising start has at least been made to the sort of professional basic research that is required in this field. It is a well-documented piece of experimental science, and the even better news is that you can get hold of your own copy. Just go to your friendly neighbourhood DVD shop and ask for a copy of “The Uranus Experiment : Part Two”. Zero gravity was simulated by flying a plane to an altitude of 11000 feet and then taking a steep dive. Due to budget constraints (NASA allegedly turned down a funding request), only one 20 second shot was possible. It all went well, and both participants as well as the camera crew returned to the ground in good health.
Peter Reid, Associate
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