China sends monkeys into space to have sex for science
A bunch of highly qualified scientists in China are sending macaques and mice into space at God’s right hand so they can study how they reproduce in space-like conditions.
“Some studies are being conducted on mice and macaques to see how they grow or even reproduce in space,” said Zhang Lu, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, in a speech Monday. “These experiments will help improve our understanding of how an organism adapts to microgravity and other space environments.”
According to a South China Morning Post article, the study will take place aboard the Wentian Lab Module on China’s Tiangong space station. The space station is currently equipped with small test cabinets intended for fish or snails, but they are being reconfigured to house the apes, which are believed to have still been on Earth at the time of this writing.
Anyone who has a pulse is currently wondering: Is it even possible to get monkeys to have sex in space? Did humans have sex in space? If you have sex in space but give birth to the baby on earth, is the baby earthling or alien? Would that very same baby be barred from entering the United States under Trump’s immigration laws?
The history here is actually interesting. Fruit flies were the first creatures to be officially sent into space in 1947. Then, in the late 1940s and 1950s, the Soviets and the US sent a variety of animals, including monkeys, mice, and dogs, into orbit. I’ve seen some reports that a pairing may have occurred, but the Soviets weren’t very keen on exchanging notes, so it’s hard to tell.
Regarding today’s space monkeys, a Beijing college professor told the SCMP that their size poses more problems, but studying larger animals is crucial to understanding whether humans can establish colonies on other planets.
“The astronauts have to feed them and take care of the waste,” Professor Kehkooi Kee of Tsinghua University told the SCMP. “These experiments will be necessary.”
As for humans, NASA has clarified that, to their knowledge, no human has ever had sex in space. Reports of sex in space have never been confirmed, despite it being a surprisingly hotly debated topic. An American astronaut couple secretly married before hooking up on a mission to the International Space Station in the ’90s, but the official story basically is that everyone’s always too busy doing astronaut shit to think about tinkering. That’s what I call gimmicks, but I’ve also never been to space.
Our nation’s top scientists say the physics of space sex would be quite difficult as you would need a third person or lots of velcro to hold you in place properly. Not only that, the elevated levels of radiation in space and the effects of weightlessness on blood circulation pose equally challenging issues for sexual and reproductive success.
According to a 2014 study: “Compared to other organ systems, the gonads are very sensitive to radiation exposure. In both men and women, temporary infertility is associated with high-dose, acute radiation exposure.”
Many scientists have also suggested that the way low gravity affects blood circulation might make it harder for men to get or maintain an erection. All of this, coupled with the lack of privacy on a spacecraft, has previously made it very difficult for astronauts to experiment in this department.
Which brings us back to the Chinese shooting monkeys into space. If the apes can successfully reproduce without problems, or if we can at least develop an understanding of the problems that arise, this may hold the key to understanding whether humans can sustain future colonies in space or on other planets.