The New York Post a recent article was titled “Astronauts Shouldn’t Masturbate in Zero Gravity Says NASA Scientist.” The article quickly went viral, leading people to wonder if the US space agency actually had issues with astronauts frolicking in the void.
The only problem? That post‘s article was based on a misunderstanding.
That Post The original article quoted Smythe Mulikan, a mechanical engineer working with a NASA contractor in Houston, Texas. Mulikan was interviewed by comedian Conan O’Brien on a recent episode of O’Brien’s Podcast. Conan O’Brien needs a friend.
According to that postMulikan reportedly said NASA would never send adult skin magazines or videos to the International Space Station (ISS) because of concerns that “female astronauts could become impregnated by stray liquids.”
“Three female astronauts can be impregnated by the same man in the same session…it finds its way,” Mulikan was quoted as saying by the post as said.
However, a closer look by fact-checkers at Snopes revealed that the post misattributed the quote to Mulikan, when in fact the comment was from O’Brien’s comedic co-host Matt Gourley.
In the episode, O’Brien asked Mulikan about the strangest objects NASA had ever sent to the ISS. Then Sona Movsesian, co-host of the podcast, asked if NASA had ever sent adult videos into space.
“No,” answered Mulikan. “None of them.”
O’Brien then mused aloud as to how it would work if an ISS astronaut wanted to watch such videos.
Gourley said, “Three female astronauts can be impregnated by the same male from the same session.”
Conan then asked, “Because the semen is flying around?”
“Uh-huh,” Gourley said. “And finds its way.”
However, according to space historian Peter Pesavento, some other countries are sending adult movies for their astronauts to enjoy in orbit. Pesavento published the claim in a 2001 issue of the scientific journal Quest: The History of Spaceflight quarterly.
“When NASA astronaut Norm Thagard became the first American to live aboard Mir in 1995, he was surprised to find a large selection of French and Italian adult films at the outpost’s video library.” The Chicago Tribune wrote, summarizing part of Pesavento’s journal article. “Psychologists had instructed the Russian crew to view the films in confidence during the final stages of their mission.”
In the 1989 book by astronaut Michael Collins Take off, he said a medical advisor encouraged astronauts to masturbate in space to prevent prostate problems. In 2020, Vice News said the Russian space agency sent “colorful” films to its cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov and offered to give him an inflatable sex doll for his 14-month adventure into space. Polyakov reportedly rejected the doll, joking that he feared he might be more attracted to it than human women.
In 2000, several publications quoted a French author as saying that pairs of astronauts aboard the US spaceflight Columbia in 1996 “tested 10 sexual positions in microgravity using a variety of devices, including elastic belts and an inflatable tunnel.”
NASA pointed out that the flight actually consisted of seven men, and internet sleuths later discovered that the French author had based his claim on a fake NASA document.