Although it is not the first time that sperm is sent into space, the new mission of NASA could offer key information on the ways in which long-term space flights influence human reproduction. In a SpaceX rocket, they have just sent human and bull semen into space.
News about trips to Mars or space tourism is booming. In fact, the Virgin company has just successfully tested a commercial aircraft that will offer flights for USD $ 250 thousand. Because of this, it is not a minor issue to understand how life could evolve in space.
The mission of NASA is called Micro-11 and began on April 1, when the entity sent human sperm and frozen bull aboard a Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station.
The crew on board will thaw the fluids, chemically activate the samples, and perform a series of tests. The astronauts will use the video recording to track the movements of the sperm and then send them back to Earth for further analysis. The final idea is to analyze how the sperm and the ovum can be fused in microgravity.
In statements made to Inverse , Dr. Fathi Karouia, NASA’s leading space biology scientist, explained:
Based on previous experiments, it seems that the lack of gravity facilitates the mobility of sperm. This is in line with other research on different organisms that have shown that microgravity conditions trigger faster cell regeneration. This project is the first to apply proven analytical methods to evaluate the fertility of human and bovine sperm in space flights.
Scientists have mentioned that research could be key, especially considering that several species have already been raised successfully in space (under special conditions), such as frogs, salamanders, sea urchins, jellyfish, snails, worms or even invertebrate aquatic animals.