Sex in Space Is Gonna Suck

The space romance Passengers has faced a mudslide of criticism for its conflation of Stockholm syndrome and romance and for taking a heady plot with scientific inaccuracies and intellectually lazy ideas about 24th-century culture. Still, it has one thing going for it that NASA never has: sex.

Sex in space isn’t new to pop culture. It has been imagined with aliens, robots, Jane Fonda, and a considerable percentage of the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine cast. But Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) and the ludicrously named Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence) cavorting does re-raise the question at the core of a future kink. What would intercourse in space be like?

The basics first: Passengers portrays two humans in a heterosexual relationship. Nowhere is a condom spotted. STDs are never mentioned. The positions in question seem to be exclusively doggy-style and missionary. All the sexual action portrayed takes place in gravity controlled, pressurized chambers that (spoiler alert) are slowly breaking down, which means the pressurization and gravity levels are occasionally a bit off — and this is a critical point. Gravity is an important reason why sex in space might be more difficult than we can imagine, especially when we consider dicks in space. Erections are caused — the psychosexual stuff aside — by a rush of blood to the penis that causes hardening and “lift.” In a location where gravity isn’t steady, that rush of blood to the nether regions can be tough, because blood is concentrated up top around the head and chest, where your vitals are housed. It’s not to say that a boner can’t be achieved, so much as that it will take some coaxing. Passengers works around this problem, however, by having all the steamy scenes occur in spaces that have some gravity.

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