Russian scientists have resolutely reacted to the article published in The Guardian newspaper. The article said that Russian and American astronauts have sex on board the International Space Station. “Those are nothing but ‘sexual’ fantasies,” they claim.
NASA has always been trying to avoid the subject of sex in space. Russia’s discoveries supposedly done in this area sank into oblivion along with the Cold War period. But one publication in a specialized journal made U.S. space officials handle this sensitive issue.
Steven Johnson, Quest space journal editor, says that the publication touches upon the problem of easing sexual tension in the orbit. “We do not know for sure whether astronauts masturbate during long flights or relieve the sexual tension in some other way, they do not do it on-camera,” says doctor Victor Shnaider, the head doctor of the NASA-Mir project.
Professor Johnson, who took part in space research works at University of North Dakota, assumes that scientists need to study this area further. The article under the title “Psychological and Social Effects of Isolation on Earth and in Space” which stirred up a controversy was written by scientist Peter Pesavento.
There is quite a list of undecided problems for both Russian and U.S. space medicine. They include depression caused by long space flights, complex crew relations and emotional and sexual consequences of protracted and coercive staying of male and female crewmembers on board, Pesavento believes.
Harry Stine, ex-technician at NASA, writes in his “Life in Space” book: “It’s difficult, but possible. And it’s preferable when somebody holds one of the partners.”
Pesavento quotes cosmonaut Valeriy Polyakov who spent 14 months on board the Mir station.
“Of course, men think about such things. But these thoughts do not disturb that much as time goes by. There are periods of extreme tension, but men’s body eventually solves this problem involuntarily. In case of recurrent tension we should restrain our desires. As a result, when coming back to Earth, we are supposed to revive our natural desires. Technical support sent us films of explicit content. There is nothing to be ashamed of. We all have wives,” the cosmonaut said.
Polyakov was the first astronaut to be suspected of having a sexual relationship with his colleague Elena Kondakova in Earth’s orbit. However, the two astronauts decidedly rejected all accusations. Polyakov declared that the experiments to test reproductive function in space were conducted by U.S. scientists with animals only.
Translated by Ksenia Sedyakina