The first baby could be born in space within the next 12 years. Startup company claims it is planning to send women on missions so they can give birth in orbit.
According to The Mirror, aim is not for whole pregnancy in space but a 24- to 36-hour mission for labour. Dr. Egbert Edelbroek, founder and chief executive of SpaceBorn United, said the company is designing missions where pregnant women can give birth in orbit. Speaking at the first Space and Science Congress of Asgardia the Space Nation in Darmstadt, Germany, Dr. Edelbroek said he thought this would happen by 2031.
SpaceBorn United is a startup that researches conditions for human reproduction in space, and is focused on assisted reproductive technology.
According to Dr. Edelbroek , this is only possible, for now, in Lower Earth Orbit (LEO), and it is only possible thanks to a very thorough selection procedure. There are some requirements for participant expectant mothers, and medical staff. These would include having experience of two flawless previous deliveries, and a high natural radiation resistance.
Dr. Edelbroek added: 'You can induce the labour process like they do in IVF clinics on a daily basis.
Concerning the 12-year estimate, Dr Edelbroek said it would depend on funding and developments in the space tourism sector.
'If that sector is going to accelerate in the way it's doing right now, there will be markets for very wealthy people who aren't prepared to do three months' military training, happy to go as they are,' he said. 'And there will be spacecraft that are very comfortable for those people. It depends on the risk you are willing to take.'
During a study conducted by NASA in 1997, pregnant rats were observed during re-adaptation to 1-g force and labour and delivery in space. Although the rats gave birth successfully after exposure to microgravity an analysis of the rat's labour found that they experienced around twice the number of labour contractions as controls on earth.
In June, Dr. Irina Ogneva, lab head of cell biophysics of the Institute of Medical and Biological Problems of Russian Academy of Sciences, revealed the ambition for the first baby born in space to be Russian.
'We have always been first in space, and would want the first human to be born in space to be a citizen of Russia,' she said.
But she admitted that so far Russian cosmonauts have refused to donate sperm obtained in space for scientific study. Dr. Ogneva did not make clear whether she expects the first space baby to be conceived as well as born in orbit. She added that from a scientific point of view, the birth of any mammal in space can definitely be achieved.