China sends monkeys to the space station so that they have sex there: why is it needed
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An experiment at the Tiangong station may answer an important question: can mammals reproduce in space ?
Chinese scientists plan to send monkeys to China's orbital station called Tiangong, which people want to get to mate in space. This experiment is designed to find out whether mammals, and potentially even humans, can have sex in microgravity and even produce offspring, writes Futurism.
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Scientists plan to send monkeys into space to conduct an experiment that will take place on the largest segment of the Chinese space station – “Wentian”. Currently, this module has all the conditions for studying the behavior of living beings in space.
“The experiment involving monkeys will be carried out by astronauts who are on the station. This study will help improve our knowledge of how mammals adapt to space conditions will also allow us to find out how realistic reproduction in space is and what problems can arise,” says Zhang Lu from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.
With humans planning to colonize the moon and Mars, the question of whether they can have sex in space and have children remains the most important question on the agenda, scientists say. Until now, there is not a single confirmed fact that astronauts on the ISS have ever had sex. But if people live in space, on orbital stations or in colonies on other planets, they will simply need to do this and give birth to children.
So far, only simpler organisms like roundworms have been able to reproduce in space. But more complex life forms have not yet succeeded. For example, in 1979, Soviet astronauts conducted an experiment in space in which they managed to get mice to mate. And some of them even got pregnant. But after returning to Earth, none of the mice gave birth. In 2014, Russian astronauts conducted an experiment with geckos to see if they could reproduce. But this venture failed, because all the creatures died.
Larger animals, especially monkeys, have more in common with people. That is why this experiment is so important for science. But astronauts in orbit will face many challenges, according to Kekoi Ki of Tsinghua University. Monkeys will need to be fed, cared for, and waste removed. But being in space can cause enormous stress for animals.
But even if astronauts manage to keep primates happy and comfortable on the space station, having sex in space is not easy.
“Firstly, it is difficult to stay in close contact with each other in zero gravity. “Secondly, lower blood pressure in space is likely to lead to erection problems in males. So it's hard to say if the monkey mating experiment will go as planned by Chinese scientists,” says Adam Watkins from the University of Nottingham, UK.The same problems await people in space, says Watkins. Care must also be taken to ensure that two astronauts can find a secluded spot on the compact space station in terms of potential human reproduction in space.
At the same time, it is worth noting that experiments on the ISS have shown that the change in gravity and cosmic radiation have little effect on the quality of sperm in men. This means that there is still a chance for humans to breed in space. As for the experiment with monkeys, the main hurdle here is whether astronauts can force primates to copulate.
As Focus already wrote, the Tiangong space station is now fully assembled in orbit and consists of three modules. The last of these was delivered into space this week by the Long March 5V rocket. But now it is returning to Earth and its fragments can fall in any part of the planet.
Focus has already written about what scientists have said about whether women can get pregnant in space and what problems this can cause.