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NASA Space

NASA Tackles Ethics of Deep-Space Exploration 456

Posted by kdawson
from the triage-a-long-way-from-home dept.
TheTony writes "With long-term projects like manned Mars exploration on the horizon, NASA has begun discussing previously taboo subjects. Ethical and practical questions involving illness, death, genetic profiling, and astronaut relations and behavior in space need to be addressed, as NASA begins to consider new policies with these extended missions in mind." From the article: "One topic that is evidently too hot to handle: How do you cope with sexual desire among healthy young men and women during a mission years long?"
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NASA Tackles Ethics of Deep-Space Exploration

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  • by tripler6 (878443) on Wednesday May 02, 2007 @06:37AM (#18954175)
    Except cute little kittens.
    • Lesbians (Score:5, Funny)

      by MountainMan101 (714389) on Wednesday May 02, 2007 @11:19AM (#18957293)
      Send lesbians. No risk of pregnancy occurring in flight, and they can sell the in flight videos to fund the mission.

      PS Don't mod this down, I did a lot of research for this post - I downloaded Lesbians in Space and Lesbians on Mars (I also downloaded one that I thought was about Uranus but was quite horrible).
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        "Send lesbians. No risk of pregnancy occurring in flight"

        Haven't you learned anything from Jurassik Park ?
  • by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Wednesday May 02, 2007 @06:38AM (#18954181)
    If jettisoning was good enough for Spock then it's good enough for the rest of them.
  • "One topic that is evidently too hot to handle: How do you cope with sexual desire among healthy young men and women during a mission years long?"

    Easy, make a hole in the spaceship at waist height.
    Their finger will be too small and there are no Inanimate Carbon Rods to save the day.

    -273 degrees of spaceness is enough to dampen the desire of all but the most eager.
    • by Random BedHead Ed (602081) on Wednesday May 02, 2007 @06:48AM (#18954255) Homepage Journal

      That's it: you've hit upon an even better solution right in your proposal. The key to maintaining relationships in space is ... this inanimate carbon rod!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cayenne8 (626475)
      Nah....just have NASA develop the perfect 'space' pill for the women!!

      Hell, they invented Tang....why not something that will now allow the astronauts to have all the 'tang' they want while up in space, with no pregnancies??

      Man..the best stuff gets invented with the space program, doesn't it?

  • Easy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jackhererUK (992339) on Wednesday May 02, 2007 @06:39AM (#18954193)
    I would have thought that the best way to cope with sexual desire among healthy young men and women during a mission years long would be for them to have sex with each other ;-)
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by physburn (1095481)
      Yes, they should take a pornstar or two on the mission and licence the movie footage to one of the major porn labels. The sales would probably pay for a major part of the mission. The only problem would be the titles which will be more excruciating than triple anal. Things like, Butt Wreck: Where no man has come before. I serious actually, it would be a good idea, and will probably be done in an orbitting hotel someday. But Nasa is of course too prudish to let it happen.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by AGMW (594303)
        One topic that is evidently too hot to handle: How do you cope with sexual desire among healthy young men and women during a mission years long?

        I'm thinking some sort of webcam?

        they should take a pornstar or two on the mission and licence the movie footage to one of the major porn labels

        ... and then they could rename the launch facility to Cape Carnal.

    • Re:Easy (Score:5, Informative)

      by Hennell (1005107) on Wednesday May 02, 2007 @06:52AM (#18954271) Homepage
      Whilst that might solve that problem, it creates a whole lot more. This article [msn.com] details some of the complications that the physics of zero gravity might bring.
      ---
      My habit of ending sentences with prepositions is over.
      ---
      • Re:Easy (Score:5, Funny)

        by BigBuckHunter (722855) on Wednesday May 02, 2007 @08:42AM (#18955063)
        This article details some of the complications that the physics of zero gravity might bring.

        The article doesn't cover oral, where bodily fluids are...well...disposed of.....if you're extremely lucky.

        BBH
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by *weasel (174362)
        do it on the exercise wheel. duh.
        artificial gravity brings the mechanical problems down to 'sex in a sauna'.
        (trust me, people aren't avoiding that just because it's hotter and sweatier)

        As for the social dynamics... don't we have data from BIO2?
        And years of McMurdo and Amundsen/Scott winter-over crews?
        They're pretty darn isolated for good chunks of time.

        • Amundsen/Scott (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Kadin2048 (468275)
          I think the difference is in the number of people. According to WP, in 2005 there were almost 90 people in the winter-over crew at Amundsen/Scott. That changes the dynamic a whole lot from, say, 3 or 5 people, like you'd probably be talking about on a Mars mission. (There are probably some very remote towns/villages around the world with less than 90 people in them, effectively isolated most of the time...I suspect if you looked up in Canada you'd find some.)

          I think the difference is that when you get get c
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by evilviper (135110)
          You're absolutely right that the social problems are being vastly overblown. It seems most people can't understand any situation other than the one they're currently in, and invent all sorts of problems that don't really exist.

          It has always astonished me to hear of couples that "couldn't make the marriage work" because one person may regularly have to be away from home. Meanwhile, before planes and trains, people would routinely be separated for years at a time, and not uncommonly for much of their lives.
    • by simong (32944)
      ...so long as NASA gets the film rights.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      Sex raises some interesting questions:
      What about space pregnancy?
      ...
      Do they have coat-hangers and back-alleys in space?
      • Re:Easy (Score:5, Insightful)

        by utnapistim (931738) <dan...barbus@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday May 02, 2007 @07:44AM (#18954589) Homepage

        What about space pregnancy?

        Pregnancy should be a definite "NO" - I think. That is not only due to lack of data (it is difficult to estimate the problems in evolution of an embryo in 0G), but for the actual birth, and what comes after it.

        Considering that getting _privacy_ is still an issue, having a sterile environment for a birth sounds prohibitive, as does raising a newly born in space (at the moment). You have to think about special food, diapers (or something similar), a baby crying at all hours and breaking the awake/rest pattern of the crew, radiation effect on a newborn and probably two dozen other problems I cannot think about.

        Pregnancy in space should be at least a few decades in the future, to have some decent estimates for a healthy baby/crew/mission success.

        That means that -at the moment - any decision taken regarding sex on a space mission should take into account some good way(s) of preventing any pregnancy.

        • Re:Easy (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Pxtl (151020) on Wednesday May 02, 2007 @09:06AM (#18955359) Homepage
          Probably growing up under zero-G would cause bizarre and potentially lethal deformities. Astronauts already have to work out incessently when in space to try and slow the onset of osteoparosis that afflicts them.

          And plus, my biggest concern with a baby wouldn't be the noise, but the fluids. Babies are veritable fountains of goo that you wouldn't want aerosolled into the breathing air.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Fex303 (557896)

          ...and probably two dozen other problems I cannot think about.
          Zero G diaper changes spring to mind...
        • Re:Easy (Score:4, Interesting)

          by cayenne8 (626475) on Wednesday May 02, 2007 @10:05AM (#18956217) Homepage Journal
          "Pregnancy should be a definite "NO" - I think. "

          You know..this thread brought to my mind that maybe they should think about things in a different manner.

          Why not on the long trips, send out crews of only gay men? No problems with pregnancy. They still have male libidos....so not much a chance of someone holding out on someone else for long....etc. I think it would be easier to find guys that could deal with sex without intimacy and all the problems that come with that. And there would be none of the problems that females might have with their periods, etc.

          I dunno...sounds strange, but, it might be something to look at...might solve the problems everyone is discussing here with pregnancy prevention, and relationship issues.

          But, man, if they did this...well, I remember all the jokes that surfaced after the Challenger blew up, imagine the ones coming out about this program.

          • Re:Easy (Score:5, Funny)

            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 02, 2007 @10:23AM (#18956423)
            Why not on the long trips, send out crews of only gay men?

            "Houston, this is Mars One. We have landed, and let me tell you, Mars is FABULOUS!!!"
          • Re:Easy (Score:5, Funny)

            by metamatic (202216) on Wednesday May 02, 2007 @10:43AM (#18956705) Homepage Journal
            No, if they want no pregnancy or infidelity causing conflict, they should send people who really believe in family values. Yeah, that's it, send Republicans.

            Hundreds of 'em.

            Just load 'em into the space ships and launch them off to Centaurus. Or somewhere. Anywhere.
    • Re:Easy (Score:5, Funny)

      by Xelios (822510) on Wednesday May 02, 2007 @06:56AM (#18954299)
      Ahh the million mile high club!
    • even easier (Score:5, Funny)

      by oliverthered (187439) <oliverthered@hotma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Wednesday May 02, 2007 @07:55AM (#18954667) Journal
      Send geeks into space, everyone knows geeks are too interested in other things to bother about having sex.
    • His parents had sex on a mission to mars. Of course, they weren't married and that caused all sorts of problems.
    • Re:Easy (Score:5, Funny)

      by Himring (646324) on Wednesday May 02, 2007 @08:08AM (#18954771) Homepage Journal
      Is it me, or is asking /. for advice on sex like asking a fish for advice on traversing a desert?...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by the_womble (580291)

      I would have thought that the best way to cope with sexual desire among healthy young men and women during a mission years long would be for them to have sex with each other ;-)
      Alternatively you can send people who are used to not having sex: advertise on Slashdot.
    • Re:Easy (Score:5, Interesting)

      by the_womble (580291) on Wednesday May 02, 2007 @08:28AM (#18954927) Homepage Journal
      More seriously than my other answer, sexual relationships are a lot tricker in a small group in a spaceship than in normal society:

      1) You cannot get away from a person who rejected you
      2) You cannot avoid someone who refuses to accept a rejection
      3) You cannot avoid living and working with some who took a third person from you.
      4) People's sexuality can be affected by unusual conditions.

      The best solution is probably to use stable couples for really long missions (months to years), but that makes it harder to recruit the best. Even then if things do go wrong you have a horrible mess.

      Psychological screening is essential in any case - and not just for the headline grabbing sex issue. There are plenty of ways in which a small group at close quarters can go wrong.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by shambalagoon (714768)
        The solution to that is easy: sex robots. They never say no, they're always available, and they'll always tell you it was the best they ever had.
    • by Morgaine (4316) on Wednesday May 02, 2007 @09:02AM (#18955309)
      Our cultural history has so often placed taboos on sex that we're not able to think clearly about this issue, it seems.

      Sex is a primary human function and drive, and to brush it under the carpet on an extended space mission would be the height of irresponsibility. Even worse would be to let cultural dogmatists decide on what should be done about sex on the basis of their preconceived smalltown agendas. This is a medical matter, and needs to be handled on a medical basis, professionally.

      The human body has many natural needs and functions which, if not addressed, make it go downhill, and eventually become impaired and disfunctional. We don't make healthy eating optional for astronauts, nor do we make physical exercise optional for our long-term space dwellers, because to do so would have a negative effect on their health. The same needs to apply to sex, for exactly the same reasons.

      Astronauts on long trips need to have their sexual indicators and requirements quantified and addressed as fully as any other medical parameters, and as professionally. This is absolutely not an area for cultural mindlock and petty embarrassment. The success of a mission and the health and lives of people in an integrated system are at stake, and to ignore a central function of the human body would be the height of folly, and disaster in the making if it is suppressed.

      To make it perfectly clear and not beat around the bush, all members of a long-voyage space team need to be aware and fully supportive of the need for regular sexual activity among the crew, just as they are about physical exercise, and in most cases this implies participation for the sake of team health. If their earth-side taboos are so strong that they are not entirely comfortable with this, then they are the wrong material for extended missions.

      The practical arrangements for this are a somewhat separate issue, and there are many alternative possibilities. But the key matter here is acceptance of the principle that sex must be handled as a natural medical function of a healthy astronaut, because without this we are destined for some very bad pathological events ahead.

      Yes, I know that this suggestion will cause many a giggle and wink. But this is an important matter, and we need to think beyond the shackles of our ancient cultural silliness.
      • by Profound (50789) on Wednesday May 02, 2007 @10:44AM (#18956719) Homepage
        The women will have to be selected for their sexual characteristics which will have to be of a highly stimulating nature.
      • by EgoWumpus (638704) on Wednesday May 02, 2007 @11:05AM (#18957055)

        Alright, I agree that human - and in particular American - culture is a little screwed up about sex. People have sex. It is a natural part of life. It should not be swept under the rug. Astronauts - at least at this stage - should have birth control, and we need to not get all hysterical about that idea. A baby conceived in space is unlikely to ever be able to come to earth, meaning it will probably die of suffocation. Etc.

        And I agree with the point that sexual desires should be monitored consistently and professionally, but I do not think mandatory sex is a good idea. It is probable that in some relationships this would work, but in most relationships it's going to be giving one partner or the other a degree of power that is unhealthy. Suppose, for instance, one of a partner pair doesn't want to have sex, but has to for the sake of their duty to NASA and nation? It is not hard to see how this could quickly send that person down a road to lessened self-esteem and depression; it happens all the time on earth. In space where you have little to no other human contact it could be devastating.

        "What, I went to college, got a higher degree, trained real hard and became an astronaut so I could become someone else's sextoy?"

        It is a bad idea. And there are alternatives; such as masturbation. NASA should at the very least be providing for materials that the astronauts they hire for their qualifications need in order to satisfy sexual urges. Pornography, dildos, what have you. Those astronauts also need to be well-trained on how to cope ultra responsibly with an adult relationship (and, for that matter, I think this has the potential of being another great technology brought to us by the space race), so that they can choose to get intimate with each other, or chose not to - but they have the choice. And not just the first time, but every time such conjugation might occur.

        But, yes, it's an incredibly important matter; one that we tend to ignore because our culture is bound up in the idea that sex is bad. Let's abolish that soon, eh?

      • by gillbates (106458) on Wednesday May 02, 2007 @11:23AM (#18957343) Homepage Journal

        There has arisen this notion that sexual activity is a requirement for health. As /. can attest, nothing is further from the truth. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that most reading this post don't have regular sexual activity, and are healthy nonetheless. While I'm saying this half-joking, there is an element of truth that needs to be discussed.

        Why is it that we can train a young child to control their bowel movements, yet expecting an adult to control their sexuality is somehow considered oppressive? If a child can learn to defer bowel movement until the appropriate time and place, why can't an adult defer their sexuality until an appropriate time and place? Or is it too much to expect an adult to have full control over their own body?

        People can learn self-control. The fact that self-control of one's own sexuality is considered somehow repressive is indicative of a lax and selfish attitude with respect to others. Sex deeply affects people emotionally, spiritually, and (surprise!) physically. To reduce it to a mere matter of personal health is ignorant of the fact that it is much more than a mere physical release. It is not merely as simple as relieving a physical urge - if it was, NASA would just tell the astronauts to masturbate and leave it at that.

        If we can require an astronaut go through extensive training so that they can cope with the effects of zero gravity for months at a time, why wouldn't we likewise train them to maintain control over their sexual urges under the same circumstances?

        Really, I don't have much faith in an astronaut to do his or her job under duress if they can't even learn to control their own body.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          >> There has arisen this notion that sexual activity is a requirement for health. As /. can attest ...

          And it IS a requirement for health. Sexual repression and denial of relief has pretty major negative consequences, and really you should dig a little deeper than Slashdot for clinical studies on the subject, of which there is no shortage. A healthy adult is always in part a sexual animal, although certainly there is very wide diversity in how this is satisfied. You seem to forget that there is no
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Bacon Bits (926911)
      Yes, but then you get problems like:
      How do you cope with living in a space vessel the size of a closet with an ex and her new boyfriend?

      It's not the logistics of intercourse that are the real problem. It's the social consequences of living with humans in intimate relationships. You can separate sex from intimacy, but intimacy is part of the reason that masturbation isn't enough.

      There are also problems such as:
      How do we handle astronauts with differing sex drives?
      What happens if *no* astronauts are willing
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by smimi10 (800411)

        How do you cope with living in a space vessel the size of a closet with an ex and her new boyfriend?
        Ask Fleetwood Mac. They seemed to have figured out how to do it alright. Well, except for the space vessel part. Although Stevie Nicks might qualify as one.
  • No sex please... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pubjames (468013) on Wednesday May 02, 2007 @06:40AM (#18954199)
    How do you cope with sexual desire among healthy young men and women during a mission years long?

    Put something in their tea. I believe they used bromide to suppress the sexual urges of soldiers during the first world war.

    But really, is this that big a problem? I believe it's not difficult to chemically suppress sexual urges.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by fazil (62946)
      Actually, it was Saltpeter
    • Re:No sex please... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mi (197448) on Wednesday May 02, 2007 @06:58AM (#18954317) Homepage

      Put something in their tea. I believe they used bromide to suppress the sexual urges of soldiers during the first world war.

      That only worked, because there weren't many females in close proximity. If you interact with them daily, no chemical will help much.

      Personally, I think, they should pick swingers [wikipedia.org] for the mission — there will be no reproductive sex on board, so the partners need no particular attachment to each other (as parents-to-be should have). Swingers, who change partners easily, supposedly, can enjoy the physical aspect of it without "drama"...

      Finding capable astronauts, who are also into swinging, may be difficult, though...

      • It sounds like a perfect approach. :)

        MadCow.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by asninn (1071320)

        That only worked, because there weren't many females in close proximity. If you interact with them daily, no chemical will help much.

        Not *all* humans are heterosexual men, thankyouverymuch...

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          No some of them are heterosexual women... and some are homosexual women... and if you get REALLY lucky you might find yourself some bi-sexual women.

          Between them and the heterosexual men, we've covered the entire human race ;)

          -1 Flamebait here I come...
      • by Xyrus (755017)
        Send male and female prostitutes along for the ride (scanned and screened of course). The astronauts themselves wouldn't have to pay, as they would be on "salary".

        Well paid, and well laid. Nothing wrong with that.

        ~X~
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      Actually, my understanding is that the old "they're putting stuff in the food so I can't get it up" myth is a result of stress. It's not at all uncommon that a soldier in basic or combat to be so physically and emotionally stressed that they are unable to preform. This is quite normal, however, the male ego refuses to believe this, so it clearly must be the result of outside interference, like the REMFs putting something in the food.

      And a quick search shows my memory serves me: http://www.snopes.com/mili [snopes.com]
  • Easy. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Xest (935314) * on Wednesday May 02, 2007 @06:40AM (#18954203)
    "How do you cope with sexual desire among healthy young men and women during a mission years long?"

    Celibate space monks!
  • by apathy maybe (922212) on Wednesday May 02, 2007 @06:45AM (#18954237) Homepage Journal
    Three simple possible ways, (ranked in order of preference).
    One, don't send people, send robots.
    Two, only send people who do not cling to the outdated notion of monogamy and who are also bi-sexual (or at least bi-curious).
    Three, castrate and/or otherwise remove the people's sexual desires (there are chemicals that will do only while they are being taken, and when they are stopped being taken, they stop working and everything goes back to normal). With this one, the chemicals would have to be put in the food, otherwise the folk won't take 'em...

    Similarly, with death you can also fix any problems, but
    One, sending robots.
    I'm sure there are other ways (make sure that everyone is mentally well adjusted and so on), but everyone lies on psych tests. (Read Blue Mars.)
    Actually, now I've just read the article. What to do with dead bodies ...
    Feed them back into the organic system, feed them into the power plant, throw them out the airlock. What else is there to do? Keep them in storage until the ship gets back to Earth?
  • by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Wednesday May 02, 2007 @06:45AM (#18954239)
    "Damnit Jim, I'm a doctor, not a _________!"
  • Well... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Centurix (249778)
    Just let them fuck each other stupid. Christ, how hard is that? At least it'll pass the time until they get to Pluto or wherever the hell they're going.
  • The answers are surely a mix of the refrain from party trips abroad and Bloodhoungd Gang lyrics:

    a) What happens on tour stays on the tour
    b) We ain't nuffin but mammals so let the do it like on the Discovery channel.
  • Couples? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HateBreeder (656491) on Wednesday May 02, 2007 @06:50AM (#18954265)
    Why not just send married couples?

    Seems simple when you think about it...
    • Re:Couples? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pubjames (468013) on Wednesday May 02, 2007 @06:57AM (#18954307)
      Why not just send married couples?

      Do you think any marriage could survive the couple being together 24 hours a day in an enclosed space for several years?
      • Some are trying to find out [blogspot.com].
      • by g2devi (898503)
        Sure. More than a few couples have done this successfully.

        The trick is to find couples with the right personality types. For instance, introverted couples with a deep passion for some solitary pursuit (e.g. music, programming, writing, video games) would likely fair a lot better than extroverted couples that need to socialize and do group activities.
      • Re:Couples? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by kasin (44122) on Wednesday May 02, 2007 @07:37AM (#18954545) Homepage
        I work with my wife in the same room, metres away. I am her boss. We are within metres of each other nearly 24 hours a day.

        The secret? Knowing when the other person needs personal space and giving it to them. Same house, different headphones.
      • by Mike1024 (184871)
        Do you think any marriage could survive the couple being together 24 hours a day in an enclosed space for several years?

        One would think this could be determined experimentally on earth. Hell, it could be self-funding with a reality TV show. Big Brother, but no evictions, three years long, and with highly educated, extremely fit, fighter pilots.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by peragrin (659227)
      It also partially solves, the jealousy problem.

      The problem isn't sex in space, but relationships in space. nasa hasn't figured out that part yet, how much you want to bet they screw it up?
      • by dsanfte (443781)
        Except when all the media attention turns their relationship into a 'celebrity marriage'. No relationship lasts long without basic privacy.
      • Well, on the plus side most of the astronauts would be wearing the diapers already!
    • Re:Couples? (Score:5, Funny)

      by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Wednesday May 02, 2007 @07:08AM (#18954379)

      Why not just send married couples?
      Who are they supposed to fuck?
  • by ettlz (639203) on Wednesday May 02, 2007 @06:52AM (#18954273) Journal

    One topic that is evidently too hot to handle: How do you cope with sexual desire among healthy young men and women during a mission years long?
    Shouldn't this be filed under "Ask Slashdot"?
    • by Ubi_NL (313657)

      Shouldn't this be filed under "Ask Slashdot"?
      because there the audience is highly experienced on the subject you mean?
      Most people here think sex can be downloaded.
  • How do you cope with sexual desire among healthy young men and women during a mission years long?

    The answer [usc.edu] Volume 7, Book 62, Number 3 (Sahih Bukhari)

    Narrated 'Alqama:

    While I was with Abdullah, 'Uthman met him at Mina and said, "O Abu 'Abdur-Rahman ! I have something to say to you." So both of them went aside and 'Uthman said, "O Abu 'Abdur-Rahman! Shall we marry you to a virgin who will make you remember your past days?" When 'Abdullah felt that he was not in need of that, he beckoned me (to join him) s

  • How do you cope with sexual desire among healthy young men and women during a mission years long?

    By beaming down to the nearest planet and finding the sexy green alien babes...

    Once again, Star Trek shows us the way forward.
  • Obligatory (Score:5, Funny)

    by itsdapead (734413) on Wednesday May 02, 2007 @06:54AM (#18954283)

    "One topic that is evidently too hot to handle: How do you cope with sexual desire among healthy young men and women during a mission years long?"

    A: Spend $100,000,000 developing high tech, er, appliances that work in zero gravity, then brace for the ensuing scandal when it emerges that the Russians just used pencils...

    Alternatively, recruit more nerds and less jocks. Why not advertise on Slashdot?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Dan East (318230)
      You're probably being being facetious, but I'll be a stick in the mud anyway: that's an urban legend [snopes.com].

      Dan East
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by itsdapead (734413)

        but I'll be a stick in the mud anyway

        That is, of course, a valid solution, but it might not suit everybody. :-)

  • Healthy? (Score:2, Funny)

    by $pearhead (1021201)

    How do you cope with sexual desire among healthy young men and women during a mission years long?
    What's healthy got to do with anything? Wouldn't sexual desire among diseased be more of a problem?
  • by jandersen (462034) on Wednesday May 02, 2007 @07:03AM (#18954347)
    How do you cope with sexual desire among healthy young men and women during a mission years long?

    You mean you don't know?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Fred_A (10934)
      I seem to remember it has to do with bees and flowers... Wouldn't that be a problem in space ?
  • One topic that is evidently too hot to handle: How do you cope with sexual desire among healthy young men and women during a mission years long?

    Short of neutering them, you can do little other than give them contraception, a little privacy (difficult) and train them in emotionally and socially managing the consequences of swinging widely and/or irresponsibly - it would be of primary importance to avoid the onset of sexual jealousy. This will call for a new kind of training, that they are also fit of mind a

  • Good hands (Score:5, Funny)

    by Alioth (221270) <no@spam> on Wednesday May 02, 2007 @07:11AM (#18954397) Journal
    Just choose astronauts with good hands.

    Sex is like bridge, after all. You don't need a partner if you have a good hand.
  • by DynaSoar (714234) * on Wednesday May 02, 2007 @07:12AM (#18954403) Journal
    Healthy men and women don't have a problem dealing with it. NASA seems to be the one with the problem. Let the healthy young men and women radio down "Houston, you have a problem down there. Deal with it. Now mind your own fucking business," and then shut off the cameras. Jesus H Christ on a pogo stick, NASA proudly shows off every new version of the zero G toilet, and they expect people to shit in it with nothing but a paper thin wall and a few inches between them and the rest of the crew, but the very thought of those same people fucking sends them into a tizzy. That's some sick and twisted thinking. I wouldn't trust them to tell me what I should do about my sex life. How the hell can these people talk about colonizing planets but have so much trouble with people making babies, or at least practising at it?
    • by blahplusplus (757119) on Wednesday May 02, 2007 @07:27AM (#18954483)
      These questions are proof positive that humans are still immature... the truth is you make it an ethical requirement of an requirement to be an astronaut to not bow to animal prejudices, and by animal prejudices I mean drama nad political bullshit, not going without sex.

      To develop programs to rid people of nervous system agitation and make people face their fears and prejudices and understand the source of their likes / dislikes, etc:

      --Develop programs that expose people to tearing down their dislike / prejudice of others
      --Look into religions and other meditative traditions as binding principles.

      Many people have gone without sex for years for religious and other reasons (will power, etc) it's not as hard as people make it out to be. What needs to be done is making them aware that their animal nervous system (i.e. their "personal likes / dislikes") are not sacred...

      They have to have the wisdom not to temper there spirits... the fact is thats what the really need to do.
  • by SpinyNorman (33776) on Wednesday May 02, 2007 @07:18AM (#18954435)
    How do you cope with sexual desire among healthy young men and women during a mission years long?

    Having put some considerable thought into this matter, I've come to the conclusion that strapping yourselves together with bungee cords would be the best way to cope.
  • Vacuum sucks
  • Whilst there are plenty of suggestions about the sex question, nobody wants to touch the illness issue.

    What is needed is a whole new code of morality or religion even.

    The dead and the seriously ill should of course be fed into the fusion reactors as fuel .. or recycled into food, or used as material for scientific experiments. .. but what we need is a moral code that makes the answers to these questions obvious.

    NASA should employ some anthropoligsts, artists, theologians and great writers of fiction. They s
  • by snitty (308387) on Wednesday May 02, 2007 @07:27AM (#18954485) Homepage
    Heinlein had a solution: send couples. Of course, then they cheat on each other, have illegitimate babies, die on mars, their son is then raised by Martians and comes back to earth and starts a cult, and gets stoned to death. On second though, maybe sending couples isn't the best idea.
  • The main problem (as I see it) is that society seems to have a problem with people being sexually active - especially the women. After all, if men go out and have sex with four women in one night, we're cool cats, but if a woman has sex with four men in one night, she's a sleezy tramp and a cheap whore.

    Someone mentioned swingers, but seems to think that they'll nail anything that walks, which isn't the case. They still need people they're sexually attracted to, and that their partners are okay with.

    What the
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Misagon (1135)
      [i](women rarely have a problem being around men all the time - it's men that have the problem with those urges)[/i]

      That is sexist, generalizing, b.s, if you ask me.
  • "How do you cope with sexual desire among healthy young men and women during a mission years long?"

    Be sure to send married couples. That'll drive the sexual desire to the ground.
  • A tricky subject. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by niktemadur (793971) on Wednesday May 02, 2007 @07:35AM (#18954531)
    How do you tackle the sex in our space program issue in a society with so many hangups and hypocrisies about it?

    Think about it, you're cooped up in a limited space with several roommates, an extremely stressful environment, even though there is an individual and collective sense of higher purpose in a manned space mission. But I still think there needs to be...um...release, not just physical (masturbation), but emotional (intercourse). Physical contact is a crucial part of a healthy body and mind.

    My solution would probably never be accepted, particularly after the driving from Texas to Florida in diapers fiasco, but here goes:
    After extensive psychological screening, accept the super balanced and respectful individuals who are comfortable with a couple-swapping scenario, a collective zero G free love kinda thing. Open minded individuals are way more relaxed than uptight ones, so that would be a plus when you're in a capsule for months if not years. But you probably couldn't tell the US public about it.

    Of course, it's likely they'll contemplate going the opposite way and giving the astronauts some sort of medication that suppresses the libido, which in my opinion would be inhumane, not to mention unnecessary.

    But then again, like I said, the US is a prudish society. Do we really want prudes to lead the way for humanity?

    Death in space. That's gonna be nasty. They'll likely never allow jettisoning the body into space, as it's the body of a hero that deserves the full honors. Remember, the US makes an extra effort to pull the bodies of KIA soldiers from combat zones.
    A friend of mine is an astrophysicist and participated in the great neutrino hunt a couple of decades ago in a mine shaft in Alaska during the winter. One of the colleagues died, but they were shut in until weather allowed for a helicopter pickup, so they ended up storing the colleague in the meat freezer. My friend still has occasional nightmares about it, almost twenty years on.

    Illness. I can think of nothing more horrifying that being a woman two months out into space, examining myself in the shower and finding a lump in my breast. So antioxidants, vitamin supplements, etc, will have to be an essential part of the rigorous diet, probably organic (no McDonald's for you mister/missus) for a couple of years before the launch. How about a daily glass of red wine and lots of garlic, too?

    If NASA tackles the health problem with the same fervor that they tackled the issues surrounding the Moon program, something much better than Tang or Velcro will eventually trickle down to the general public: great advancements in preventive medicine. And who knows what else.

    Damn, these issues are fascinating.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Mal-2 (675116)

      A friend of mine is an astrophysicist and participated in the great neutrino hunt a couple of decades ago in a mine shaft in Alaska during the winter. One of the colleagues died, but they were shut in until weather allowed for a helicopter pickup, so they ended up storing the colleague in the meat freezer.

      This is also what is done if someone dies on a cruise ship -- the body is kept in a freezer until the next port. There is no morgue, and although there is a doctor's office, the freezer there is NOT big

  • ...to note that we (or at least NASA) cannot debate openly about the single most talked about and thought about and influential subject in human history.
  • by Shivetya (243324) on Wednesday May 02, 2007 @07:38AM (#18954555) Homepage Journal
    Well one way to handle the sexual desire problems is to neuter them. I would hope that as a people, especially highly trained as astronauts are, that sex isn't going to be a pressing issue for them on a long term journey. Even if so, send married couples, or send singles, don't mix it up. You could also try drugs to suppress the desires as well. It may also depend on the mission as well. One other note, if we as a specie cannot operate sensibly in space, which can include safe sex, they why are we there?

    As for critical injuries, these are all professionals, many were test pilots. While some may never have served in the military they already know the risk their profession brings. If you set out the rules ahead of time they will accept their fate should it become an issue. If anything your going to have to deal with more of the non-critically injured wanting to break the rules to save a dieing friend than the other way around.

    As for surgery to prevent possible medical complications, thats a mess. You would have to study both the population at large as well as the astronauts family history to see which issues they are prone too.

    As for a dead astronaut. Bets are many would prefer to be buried at space if they have no immediate families at home. Still I cannot see why they cannot be ziplocked and stored in a cold but pressurized area of the ship. The only real negative is the emotional stress placed on the remaining crew having a corpse along, a corpse of a friend.

  • by olman (127310) on Wednesday May 02, 2007 @07:40AM (#18954567)
    Do what you do to tomcats.

    Just put relevant legalese into the astronaut EULA pg 27.
  • Ethics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PMuse (320639) on Wednesday May 02, 2007 @08:38AM (#18955023)
    Suppose you have work at your career for years to become one of the best in your field. Suppose an opportunity arises to work on a three-year project that will not only be the pinnacle of your career, not only make you famous, but will also be of real historical significance.

    All you have to do to be selected is to agree to have sex with whomever else your employer selects, whether you like them or not.
  • by PhxBlue (562201) on Wednesday May 02, 2007 @08:58AM (#18955265) Homepage Journal

    "One topic that is evidently too hot to handle: How do you cope with sexual desire among healthy young men and women during a mission years long?"

    Three words: Pay-per-view. NASA will never again have to worry about funding.

  • Send older people (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sphealey (2855) on Wednesday May 02, 2007 @10:03AM (#18956191)
    (This idea is not mine, but I can't remember where I first saw it)

    The problem with a Mars expedition is not getting there; it is getting there with enough fuel to return the crew to Earth. Solution? Don't return. Rather than sending the young and healthy, send the old and reasonably healthy: men and women in the 60+ age range who are in reasonably good physical shape and who volunteer for a one-way mission. They are told from the outset that they have x years supplies; that more will be sent if possible; and that if the impulse engine is invented someone will come pick them up. Otherwise they should reserve some time early on after landing to locate a suitable site for a cometary and chip out some tombstones, then get to work exploring and naming things after themselves.

    This wouldn't automatically solve the sex problem given today's "more active seniors", but people of that age have less urgent sex drives and are generally better able to negotiate/handle the emotional and interpersonal situations as well.

    sPh

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