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Made in Space!
September 29, 2013 5:06 AM   Subscribe

"It is made out of velcro-like fabric that lines the Russian food containers [that are] found here on the International Space Station."
posted by Brandon Blatcher (37 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
That is a really good dinosaur. She should sell these on Etsy. Shipping would be pretty high though.
posted by mittens at 6:14 AM on September 29, 2013 [12 favorites]


Neat dinosaur. Her three year old will love it!

The article mentions her husband is also an astronaut who was last in space in 2011. Have they ever been up in space together? My ex and I never wanted to fly on the same airplane when the kids were young for fear of leaving them orphans in the event of a tragedy. That also brings me to the other question that has been on my mind for a while regarding space. Sex in space. Yes? Ever?
posted by JohnnyGunn at 6:19 AM on September 29, 2013


My new nightmare: free-floating sewing needles in space. Nearly invisible and perfect for inhaling.
posted by blue_beetle at 6:28 AM on September 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


Sex in space. Yes? Ever?

Never. The quarters are too small for others not to notice and the astronauts usually have heart monitors on which would alert doctors about their excited state, prompting all sorts of questions. In short, if it had happened, too many people would know to keep it a secret. Department of Defense secrets or satellite launches during the Shuttle will stay secret, but sex? No, people would gossip too much.

There have been various studies though, which have suggested things such as anal sex only (it was the '60s) or having a third or fourth person hold the two people having sex, to keep them steady. Straps to hold them down have also been suggested. Space sex is inherently kinky!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:33 AM on September 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hook and loop tape!
posted by Joe Chip at 7:09 AM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sex in space. Yes? Ever?

Anyone hoping to join (or found) the Hundred Mile High Club would probably have more luck dealing with Scaled Composites than NASA.
posted by localroger at 7:20 AM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Interesting. The word Velcro is a portmanteau of the two French words velours ("velvet"), and crochet ("hook"). "The term Velcro is commonly used to mean any type of hook-and-loop fastener, but remains a registered trademark in many countries used by the Velcro company to distinguish their brand of fasteners from their competitors."
posted by Daddy-O at 8:10 AM on September 29, 2013


I would totally buy a space dinosaur, omg.

re: the accompanying photos in the article - it must be nice not to have your hair in your face all the time.
posted by elizardbits at 8:39 AM on September 29, 2013


Karen Nyberg's Pinterest page.
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:43 AM on September 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


I, too, enjoy QI.
posted by Quilford at 8:50 AM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


the astronauts usually have heart monitors on which would alert doctors about their excited state, prompting all sorts of questions.

I feel sad for the astronauts that they cannot even have a simple wank in space without attracting unnecessary attention.
posted by elizardbits at 8:55 AM on September 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


I feel sad for the astronauts that they cannot even have a simple wank in space without attracting unnecessary attention.

See masturbation is different story, no risk of pregnancy or other mishaps. I find it hard to believe that no astronauts haven't masturbated on the ISS, but that's a private thing and no one is talking about it.

Don't know if crew members are allowed to take off their monitors and if so, for how long. Could be that after a month or two, one just doesn't care and if you're in your private bunk after the shift end, nobody says anything if you're heart level gets elevated for a bit.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:09 AM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


If it happened unofficially, here's the prime suspects: (wiki article)
The first married couple to fly in space together were N. Jan Davis and Mark C. Lee who both served as mission specialists aboard Endeavour on STS-47 in September 1992. Lee and Davis had met during training for the flight and had married in secret. They disclosed their marriage to NASA shortly before the flight, when it was too late to train a substitute. NASA has since changed the rules and will not allow married astronauts on the same flight.
Means, motive, opportunity - all right there.
posted by chambers at 9:13 AM on September 29, 2013 [6 favorites]


Nope, on that mission they crew was divided into two teams that worked 12 hour shifts to run all the experiments. The married couple were split up and put on different teams. So they weren't sleeping at the same.

Would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when they told their supervisors they had secretly gotten married.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:26 AM on September 29, 2013


Here's the AskMetafilter thread from 2006 where we all talked about sex in space, and rumors about whether or not it had happened yet, and potential problems with it occurring (and also potential problems if it doesn't occur).
posted by Asparagirl at 9:51 AM on September 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Isn't anyone going to say "curse your sudden and inevitable betrayal"?
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:17 AM on September 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Nope, on that mission they crew was divided into two teams that worked 12 hour shifts to run all the experiments. The married couple were split up and put on different teams.

That NASA doesn't want the subject of space sex to turn into some PR boondoggle that could be used by opponents of the space program to aid in and argument for funding cuts makes logical sense to me.

NASA astronauts have a reputation for their professionalism, discipline, and training. So on one hand, I could see nothing happening if so ordered.

However, put two people with the high intelligence and problem-solving creativity skills that are also required for being an astronaut, who kept their marriage secret until the last moment - an act that by itself could quite possibly end up in them never being chosen again for a space flight crew (which happened to the Skylab 4 crew after what one might call a labor revolt), I find it difficult that mere scheduling would get in the way of a once in a lifetime chance to get all "funky zero-g wiggletime", if they decided to try actually it.

If they actually did, it's doubtful we'd ever hear of it - NASA would have ordered them to secrecy under the same rules that govern their security clearance. Taking away the chance at being on the active flight list is a big hit to one's career, but the consequences of violating their security clearance would be devastating to it - jail time could be imposed (but its unlikely, as it just makes more bad press), but future employment in the aerospace industry both inside and outside of NASA would be nigh impossible without a security clearance.
posted by chambers at 10:24 AM on September 29, 2013


I think, chambers, you're mostly correct, but perhaps underestimate how unbelievably more cool you would suddenly become if it were to slip out that you were one of the astronauts that, ahem, boldly went. It would be like Bill-Clinton-playing-sax-on-the-Arsenio-Hall-show levels of cool times a thousand million. Maybe you would be done in the aerospace industry but surely you could parley that coolness into other ventures.
posted by laconic skeuomorph at 10:45 AM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is awesome. She's on Twitter too @AstroKarenN
posted by butterstick at 11:40 AM on September 29, 2013


George_Spiggott: "Isn't anyone going to say "curse your sudden and inevitable betrayal "?"

No, but I will say, all you damn crafty people have to wiggle in EVERYWHERE, don't you?
posted by Samizdata at 1:37 PM on September 29, 2013


"It is made out of velcro-like fabric that lines the Russian food containers [that are] found here on the International Space Station," Nyberg wrote about the doll. "It is lightly stuffed with scraps from a used t-shirt."

This is really cool, but I find myself wondering why the site felt they needed to add "that are" to the sentence, and why they didn't also change the second sentence to "it is lightly stuffed with scraps [that are] from a used t-shirt."
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 4:19 PM on September 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


which have suggested things such as anal sex only

... and this is supposed to avoid heart rate spikes how, exactly?
posted by IAmBroom at 6:21 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


They could have switched heart monitors with two other crew members. Or loudly announced, "We are going to have sex now and you can't stop us! Neener neener neener!"
posted by double block and bleed at 6:29 PM on September 29, 2013


Or they might just not be monitored 24/7 like the Apollo astronauts. In the OP picture where Nyberg is doing needlecraft she seems to be informally dressed and not instrumented.
posted by localroger at 7:16 PM on September 29, 2013


the astronauts usually have heart monitors on

Not really, although there was some such monitoring in the early days of spaceflight.

Modern astronauts aren't monitored all the time like astronauts in the early space days were, and don't wear electrodes 24/7. They get routine physicals and are monitored during activities like exercise, EVA, and certain experiments, but the rest of the time they are not monitored per se -- Dr. Jennifer Law, Flight-Surgeon-In-Training, via Pillownaut (a NASA research test subject, I gather)

Also, a flight controller notes there that Mission Control has a good idea who's awake and not through indirect means such as the lights and gyroscopes (which have to counteract astronaut motion). But generally the ground control team is hands-off regarding astronaut free time -- it's a stress thing.

Means, motive, opportunity - all right there.

Keep in mind the space on each deck is/was about the same as in the Astrovan (an Airstream RV) they use for crew transport at Kennedy. And there aren't really any dividing walls anywhere. And everyone is your co-worker.

As for ISS, I imagine it would be logistically possible, but again you don't have any real expectations of privacy. I suspect maybe the next generation of space station will have a surer claim to be the site of the first orbital sexual congress.

an act that by itself could quite possibly end up in them never being chosen again for a space flight crew

Well, the process is highly political (in an organization sense), but the days when George Abbott held flight assignment powers over everyone's head like the executioner's axe are pretty much over. I think NASA -- especially post diapers incident -- is mainly afraid of embarrassing affairs, but unofficially there's always been a certain amount of hanky panky. Being known to have an "office spouse" type relationship might be just as hazardous to being assigned together as an actual marriage, actually, but mainly because it's problematic to team culture.

....

I came here to say something snarky about how in the 1960s thinking about female astronauts probably did lean toward expecting them to experiment with sewing in space, but nowadays it's actually refreshing to see it being accepted as a reasonable, laudable hobby without a sexist angle.

But then I opened the thread and it's even worse, really -- how on Earth can we expect to have women in space and nobody's having sex?! It's not exactly boyzone but it's not very complimentary either.
posted by dhartung at 3:04 AM on September 30, 2013


Keep in mind the space on each deck is/was about the same as in the Astrovan (an Airstream RV) they use for crew transport at Kennedy. And there aren't really any dividing walls anywhere. And everyone is your co-worker.

Add in the number of people in Mission Control who are at least aware of where crew members, if not what they're doing in off hours and you've got a lot of people who know, yet remain silent. Somebody would have talked, at least anonymously. People love to talk about sex, whether to laud it, brag about it or condemn it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:56 AM on September 30, 2013


About space masturbation: In this episode of Star Talk, Mary Roach says that over drinks she asked a cosmonaut about sex in space and he said something like: "People often ask me how do you make sex in space. I tell them, 'you make it by hand!'"

http://www.startalkradio.net/show/packing-for-mars-part-2/
posted by Sleeper at 8:36 AM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I would think that NASA wants to know as much as anyone else and while they will not condone it, under the right circumstances, they would choose to look the other way.

On the other hand, maybe the 'orgasmatron' in the movie Sleeper is the way of the future.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:55 AM on September 30, 2013


dhartung: "Also, a flight controller notes there that Mission Control has a good idea who's awake and not through indirect means such as the lights and gyroscopes (which have to counteract astronaut motion).

Well, since sex requires the lights to be on, and can't be confined to small movements, that means no one has ever done it!

Keep in mind the space on each deck is/was about the same as in the Astrovan (an Airstream RV) they use for crew transport at Kennedy. And there aren't really any dividing walls anywhere. And everyone is your co-worker.

And if you believed your coworker and his wife were bumping uglies, would you pop your head in and chime, "Hey, why are your pants down?"

As for ISS, I imagine it would be logistically possible, but again you don't have any real expectations of privacy.

If the prize was sex in space, I wouldn't care if it were televised to HRM Elizabeth. Coming, Miss Moneypenny?
posted by IAmBroom at 12:02 PM on September 30, 2013


And if you believed your coworker and his wife were bumping uglies, would you pop your head in and chime, "Hey, why are your pants down?"

Since they were on different schedules and their sleep times were at the same time, I can easily see Mission Control or the Mission Commander doing exactly that. Humping is fine, but screwing with the work timeline is not.

posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:05 PM on September 30, 2013


5 minutes pre-sleep, Brandon. The station would stay in orbit that long.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:08 PM on September 30, 2013


Totally possible. I just don't buy that other astronauts would stay quiet about. Out of five people, someone would be gossiping.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:12 PM on September 30, 2013


Keep in mind the space on each deck is/was about the same as in the Astrovan (an Airstream RV) they use for crew transport at Kennedy.

Ah! However, on STS-47 the mission required the use of the LM2 habitable Spacelab module to conduct experiments in. So there was more space available than just the flight, mid, and lower decks.
posted by chambers at 1:53 PM on September 30, 2013


As I dig through all these diagrams and mission reports, I wonder to myself "Wait - I'm doing all this only to show that it would be possible for people to have sex in space?", and I realize I'm using the same skills and analytics that I used to use when I was into the goofy conspiracies back in high school.

Then I realize that if this conspiracy (as it does take two to tango in this situation) actually happened, then it's just about two people who fell in love and got married in secret so their bosses wouldn't keep them apart, and maybe had a chance to express it in one of the most unique places possible. It's like a heist movie that's actually a love story.

It's beautiful, it's silly, and I sure hope they were able to make it happen.
posted by chambers at 2:12 PM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


As I dig through all these diagrams and mission reports, I wonder to myself "Wait - I'm doing all this only to show that it would be possible for people to have sex in space?"

It's possible, just highly doubtful in my opinion, with almost nothing substantial to even suggest it really did.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:26 PM on September 30, 2013


I'm sure they did not have sex in space!
Many consider '69' != having sex.
posted by Goofyy at 8:08 AM on October 1, 2013


Interestingly, the Slate article linked in the Askme thread, reads:
...which means reduced blood flow, which means … well, you know what that means.
Except, actually, reduced pressure results in an increase of blood to those fun bits that are so inflatable. So, the article shows lack of basic knowledge.
posted by Goofyy at 8:52 AM on October 1, 2013


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