Sex and babies in space
For a civilization to be really free from Earth, the population needs to grow, and that means babies. Living on the Moon or Mars will be arduous and stressful, so the first inhabitants will probably spend only a few years there at a time and are unlikely to start a family.
But once people do take up permanent residency off-Earth, there are still many unknowns. First, little research has been done on the biology of pregnancy and reproductive health in a space or low-gravity environment like the Moon or Mars. It’s possible there will be unexpected hazards to the fetus or mother. Second, babies are fragile, and raising them is not easy. The infrastructure of these bases would have to be sophisticated to make some version of normal family life possible, a process that will take decades.
With these uncertainties in mind, it seems likely that the first off-Earth baby will be born much closer to home. A Dutch startup called SpaceLife Origin wants to send a heavily pregnant woman 250 miles up just long enough to give birth. They talk a good story, but the legal, medical and ethical obstacles are formidable. Another company, called Orbital Assembly Corporation, plans to open a luxury hotel in orbit in 2027 called the Voyager Station. Current plans show that it would hold 280 guests and 112 crew members, with its spinning-wheel design providing artificial gravity. But the breathless news reports omit any discussion of the difficulty and cost of such a project.
However, on April 12, 2021, NASA announced that it is considering allowing a reality TV show to send a civilian to the International Space Station and film them for 10 days. It’s plausible that this idea could be extended, with a wealthy couple booking a long-term stay for the entire process from conception to birth in orbit.
At the moment, there’s no evidence anyone has had sex in space. But with about 600 people having been in Earth orbit – including one NASA couple who kept their marriage a secret – one space historian was able to gather plenty of Space Age salacious moments.
My guess is that sometime around 2040, a unique individual will be born. They may carry the citizenship of their parents, or they may be born in a facility operated by a corporation and end up stateless. But I prefer to think of this future person as the first true citizen of the galaxy.
This Article firstly Publish on astronomy.com