The Case for Space Sexology

Space poses significant challenges for human intimacy and sexuality. Life in space habitats during long-term travel, exploration, or settlement may: detrimentally impact the sexual and reproductive functions of astronauts, restrict privacy and access to intimate partners, impose hygiene protocols and abstinence policies, and heighten risks of interpersonal conflicts and sexual violence. Together, this may jeopardize the health and well-being of space inhabitants, crew performance, and mission success. Yet, little attention has been given to the sexological issues of human life in space. This situation is untenable considering our upcoming space missions and expansion. It is time for space organizations to embrace a new discipline, space sexology: the scientific study of extraterrestrial intimacy and sexuality. To make this case, we draw attention to the lack of research on space intimacy and sexuality; discuss the risks and benefits of extraterrestrial eroticism; and propose an initial biopsychosocial framework to envision a broad, collaborative scientific agenda on space sexology. We also underline key anticipated challenges faced by this innovative field and suggest paths to solutions. We conclude that space programs and exploration require a new perspective – one that holistically addresses the intimate and sexual needs of humans – in our pursuit of a spacefaring civilization.