Can Babies Be Born In Space?

November 6, 2013
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There are fewer places folks want to bang more than in space. We all want to be like Spock and Uhura and go at it in zero gravity, there’s no way around that. Space is the ultimate aphrodisiac for all kinds of people (it’s space!). But for those trying to procreate (in this economy?), space may be the wrong place to go about it. Unless you have your very own Millennium Falcon or USS Enterprise with fantastical gravity engines, making a baby in the final frontier could be cause for concern.

As a cautionary note, I must admit I am no scientist. But enough popular science (or, “science for people wandering round the Internet”) exists for me to report on the matter. And share my opinion of non-scientific ramifications of our desire to have our offspring in the deep black.

At present, there doesn’t seem to be one conclusive study on the matter of babies in space. Some scientists have sent pregnant rats into space to see how the mothers and their subsequent kids do in orbit. The findings for these experiments have been not extremely certain; one of the observations made is that the body mass loss and its weakening of the animal doesn’t bode well for the mother or the infant. Rat babies born in space are weaker and not as well developed as their earthly counterparts. Other science folks put mice embryos in altered gravity chambers on earth and the cells had trouble maturing over the course of their development into fetuses.

And these studies have only been done on rats and mice and other little critters that don’t even have aspirations of going into space. Unlike humans, rats and mice like it here on earth. We have dreams of terraforming, and that can only really happen if we’re able to make love and reap the genetic benefits (babies!) in space.

Humans, though, don’t do that well in space. Gravity, as it turns out, plays a sweet role in keeping our jumble of muscles and fats and tissues and other business all working properly, meaning our biological form is altered by space living. We lose mass in bones and muscles and stuff, and our heart stops grooving to that 4/4 beat. And we’re talking trained astronauts here. The idea of throwing a pregnant lady into space and expecting the bundle of joy to be as well developed as a kid born in our native gravity is kind of crazy. Which is why scientists love it so much and want it to be possible. We wish to scientifically conquer the cosmos, one child at a time. And not only that, making a baby in space means understanding what our gravity contributes to our bodies. We dig on gravity enough, we get space babies.

Technology being what it is, this doesn’t seem that remote a possibility. Expensive, yes, but possible. What’s scary is the idea that we’re taking advantage of natural forces to muck with our internal engineering. But that’s been a grand inspiration as well as a problem for as long as we’ve known what’s pulsing and flowing under our skin. Babies in space sound awesome, but imagine how many failures of babies have to be produced before a good little creature pops out into the space station with not a single genetic defect. Twisted eugenics, here we come!

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