If extraterrestrials wanted to try creating a human hybrid (I know – like they haven’t already!), now might be the time. NASA has revealed that a recent SpaceX cargo ship sent to the International Space Station contained an unusual and unique (as far as we know officially) cargo – vials of frozen bull and human sperm. Next, they’ll participate in an experiment to see if they have enough strength and mobility to attach to an egg membrane. Finally, they’ll be preserved and sent back to Earth for further evaluation. Wouldn’t it be easier (and more fun) to send a married (or at least ‘in a relationship’) couple to the ISS?
As a matter of fact, although it is strictly against NASA policy (no word on other space programs), one and only one married couple has been in space together. In September 1992, Space Shuttle mission STS-47 contained Mission Specialist 1 Mark C. Lee and Mission Specialist 3 N. Jan Davis, who met in astronaut training and married secretly shortly before the mission – forcing NASA to waive the ban for one time instead of postponing the mission until replacements could be found. Lee and Davis refused to answer any questions about having sex in the cramped Endeavor shuttle with five other crew members watching (or at least peeking) and they eventually divorced (coincidence?). While the ISS is more spacious and accommodating to intimate relations (or experiments) and has had many male-female crews, NASA continues to insist that, in spite of needing the information for longer space missions, no sex has officially occurred in space.
What’s happening in the Micro-11 experiment isn’t exactly sex either. While the current all-male crew looks on (Really NASA? You waited until there were no women on the ISS?), the human sperm (there’s no word on who the donors were) will be divided into two groups (teams?). One group will be placed in a control placebo solution while the others will swim in a solution that stimulates capacitation, which is the maturation process a sperm must go through in order to be ready to attach to an egg. (Some articles have implied there would be eggs involved, but NASA says no.) The astronauts will be crouched around a microscope watching the wiggling while video is beamed back to scientists on Earth (nice work if you can get it). Then they’ll all be preserved and returned to Earth, where they’ll be analyzed and compare, both with each other and with sperm that went through similar processes on Earth.
Finally, the samples will be mixed with preservatives and returned to Earth, where they’ll be analyzed to see whether capacitation occurred and whether the sperm samples from space differ from sperm samples activated on the ground. As NASA’s press release states:
“Little is currently known about the biology of reproduction in space and this experiment will address this gap by measuring – for the first time – how well human sperm functions in space.”
Which brings us back to who put the sperm in space – Elon Musk and his massive Falcon 9 thruster/rocket. (You KNEW Musk would be involved with this somehow.) While he probably would have preferred a more sexual experiment to be conducted in the back seat of his orbiting Tesla Roadster (now THERE’S some good work, but nobody can get it … yet), he’ll probably take any results he can get as he prepares his own long-term missions to Mars.
Sperms in Space. Great name for a band. Great name for porn parody. Great recruiting campaign for NASA.