Why did NASA transport human sperm samples into space?

  • Crystal Ng
  • April 10, 2018
  • 0

  • NASA has recently transported samples of human sperm into the outer space.
  • This is part of the experiment to achieve procreation in zero-gravity.

According to qrius news outlet, NASA has recently transported samples of sperm to the International Space Station (ISS). What’s more is that it is not merely human sperm, but also bull sperm. In doing so, they are hoping to find out if the very element that is required in reproduction can itself, remain intact in the outer space. They are attempting to examine the way in which these sperm samples will react in an environment with no gravity.

NASA has labeled this mission as ‘Micro-11’. SpaceX rockets, another one of Elon Musk’s productions, were used in the mission. In fact, many productions by Elon Musk that utilizes Tesla’s most innovative technology have previously been involved in outer space experiments. For instance, the SpaceX rockets have previously transported Musk’s personal motor vehicle into outer space. They were also used to place the telecom satellites in space.

Even though NASA has actually brought samples of sperm into ISS before, they have never sent one that belonged to a human being. They are attempting to get to the bottom of how the lack of gravity may affect the reproduction of humankind.

Previous specimens were derived from various animals. Some of which includes aquatic invertebrates such as amphipods, daphnia, gastropods as well as ostracods. In addition, there were also samples that had belonged to frogs, salamanders, sea urchins and snails. They were employed in the testing of reproduction of those species in microgravity.

To carry out the experiment, Nasa will ship the samples of sperm in its frozen form. Following that, the samples will be defrosted back into its original form. This was done by the space crew members in the International Space Station. They will then activate the sperm cells through a chemical procedure in order to fruitfully fertilize an egg.

Fathi Karouia, a Space Science and Astrobiology researcher and lead scientist for Space Biology Project at NASA Ames Research Center have communicated his findings to the Inverse news media recently.

“Based on previous experiments, it seems the lack of gravity facilitates sperm mobility. This is in line with other investigations on different model organisms which have shown that microgravity conditions trigger faster cell regeneration.”

While previous experiments done on animals have shown some success, it seems that it is not as easy for human beings. As a matter of fact, scientists have conveyed the challenges towards human reproduction in outer space, where it lacks the element of gravity. Without the ability to procreate, it will subsequently be impossible for a species to begin a new civilization there. This means that our hopes of relocation to a different planet and beginning a new human civilization there has been bumped off.

Karouia further expanded on his research.

“This flight project is the first to apply proven analytical methods to assess the fertility of human and bovine sperm in spaceflight.”

Regardless of the outcome, however, this experiment in itself, is another step taken towards sustaining mankind and their humanity. Despite of the current letdown, we cannot predict what the future has in store for us. Things are always transforming and changing, who knows what the newest breakthrough in science and technology could lead to?

As long as we continue to persist in our search and remain resilient no matter the outcome, it is highly possible for them to achieve success in their experiments. In fact, gaining success means that one day, the people in the future will not only be travelling to the outer space. They will be from the outer space. With all these commotion about extraterrestrials, perhaps future generations themselves will be from a different planet.

Featured image via flickr/ NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

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