Death And Sex On NASA's Mission To Mars

From Associated Press
By Mike Schneider

How do you get rid of the body of a dead astronaut on a three-year mission to Mars and back? A little kinky, no?
When should the plug be pulled on a critically ill astronaut who is using up precious oxygen and endangering the rest of the crew? Should NASA employ DNA testing to weed out astronauts who might get a disease on a long flight? With NASA planning to land on Mars 30 years from now, and with the recent discovery of the most “Earth-like” planet ever seen outside the solar system, the space agency has begun to ponder some of the thorny practical and ethical questions posed by deep space exploration. Some of these who-gets-thrown-from-the-lifeboat questions are outlined in a NASA document on crew health obtained by The Associated Press through a Freedom of Information Act request.

NASA doctors and scientists, with help from outside bioethicists and medical experts, hope to answer many of these questions over the next several years. “As you can imagine, it’s a thing that people aren’t really comfortable talking about,” said Dr. Richard Williams, NASA’s chief health and medical officer. “We’re trying to develop the ethical framework to equip commanders and mission managers to make some of those difficult decisions should they arrive in the future.” 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?

Sex is not mentioned in the document and has long been almost a taboo topic at NASA. Williams said the question of sex in space is not a matter of crew health but a behavioral issue that will have to be taken up by others at NASA.


Tango’s Take
It looks like NASA has finally realized that its astronauts are not the perfect robots that they thought they were. All it took was a little love triangle complete with sexy text messages from space, a cross-country road trip with diapers and an attempted kidnapping. So there is a chance that on a three-year trip that some of these astronauts, all of whom are in the peak of health (physical if not mental), will get a little randy. If they don’t come up with a concrete policy, things could get ugly. Imagine riding in a vehicle the size of a corporate jet for three years surrounded by the same people. To paraphraseThe Shining, all work and no gravity makes Jack a dull boy.
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