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NASA Told to Make Room for Sex in Space

June 25, 1985

NEW YORK (AP) _ It’ll take more than Tang to keep our astronauts happy if men and women are sent on 90-day trips together, according to an environmental psychologist who recommends creating quarters for space station sex.

″The prospect of having women and men working together in close quarters always seems to lead to questions about sexual activity,″ Yvonne Clearwater writes in the July issue of Psychology Today magazine. ″It seems obvious, however, that a group of normal, healthy professionals will probably possess normal, healthy sexual appetites.″

Hence the conclusion by the leader of a National Aeronautics and Space Administration research team: ″If we lock people up for 90-day periods, we must plan for the possibility of intimate behavior.″

Ms. Clearwater’s Habitability Research Group has been charged with telling NASA how to make the space station, which is scheduled to begin operation in the next decade, comfortable and efficient.

Reached by telephone Monday at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif., Ms. Clearwater said she was reluctant to discuss any specifics because her remarks might attract too much attention to the topic of space station sex.

″NASA’s trying to get this can in the air right now,″ she said of the space station. ″They don’t want psychologists rattling on about sex in space. It’s an issue, but it’s not the time to study it now. In 12 months, yes.″

But she and a research group colleague, Maria Junge, said their team - which includes psychologists, engineers and an architect - has discussed ways to build and soundproof individual sleeping compartments that would afford sufficient privacy for sex.

Although plans call for such compartments to accommodate only one person, a compartment for two ″is one of the things were thinking about, particularly for a married or significantly relating couple,″ said Ms. Clearwater.

Lockheed, a leading aerospace contractor, has designed a compartment for two, which it described as being for a married couple, according to Ms. Junge.

Another alternative, she said, was construction of individual compartments with partitions which could be removed to create two-person compartments.

Since the composition of the space station’s crew would change, such a design would afford the same flexibility as ″hotels with locking doors between the rooms,″ Ms. Junge said.

″There are people who are going to be upset, both within NASA and within the general public,″ by any discussion of sex between unmarried people, Ms. Clearwater predicted. ″But it’s not NASA’s job to serve as moral judge.″

Sexuality, she said, is part of human nature, and ″we can’t stop planning for healthy human behavior becuase of conservative reaction.″

″We’re saying, ’People are the principal resource,‴ Ms. Clearwater said. ″It’s going to cost $35,000 an hour to keep people in the space station, and you can’t have people flipping out up there.″

Anyway, she said, a place for sex ″is just one tiny part″ of making space station occupants comfortable and productive.

″(Many of) the people we’re going to be inviting up are highly motivated, world-class expert scientists. If anything, they will work themselves into a frenzy,″ she said. ″In addition, we’ll have to get them to exercise two hours a day and make sure they consume enough calories. That’s a bigger deal than sex.″

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