SpaceLife Origin is a startup based in the Netherlands and wants to send a pregnant woman into space. According to SpaceLife Origin, it wants to send a pregnant woman about 250 miles above the Earth to have the first extraterrestrial baby born in the history of humankind. All in the name of science, of course.
In case our planet ever becomes a difficult place to sustain human life, the only hope that we would have would be to leave the home planet and settle someplace else. However, the first step for that to happen is to learn how to carry out reproduction in space. The founders of the SpaceLife Origin want to get the ball rolling by having a baby born in zero gravity conditions. The company believes that the long-term survival of our race depends on it.
As per Egbert Edelbroek, an executive of the Dutch startup, finding out how to give birth in zero-gravity conditions is an insurance policy intended for us humans. That is because even if we are able to discover or build a livable place in space, we will have to figure out how to give birth in Space if we are to survive. SpaceLife Origin intends to organize a series of innovative experiments over the course of the next five years with the final and most complex one being about an actual birth in space. This event is scheduled for 2024.
Edelbroek says that he has already had meetings with various spaceflight companies that are on board with the idea of sending a team 250 miles above the Earth, and has also found financers for the experiment. However, experts say that despite all of this progress; the idea is bound to be a logical disaster.
The act of getting the pregnant woman into space just before she is ready to go into labor is complex, however; what worries the experts most is the safety of the child and the birthing process. Astronauts are subject to thrice the force of gravity when a rocket is ascending to orbit. If anything goes wrong with the launch, this force becomes even more. No one knows how this will affect the unborn child or the woman who is about to give birth.
Some experiments have been carried out on rats, lizards, invertebrates, and fish concerning birth in space. Back in the ’90s, on a US space shuttle mission, rats gave birth. Each pup was born with an immature vestibular system – the ear structure that enables mammals to orient and balance themselves. Although the pups regained their sense of balance soon enough, the scientists concluded that infants do need gravity.
Not having gravity will pose all kind of hiccups ranging from bodily fluids floating around to inability to administer epidural to the patient. Even if everything goes well, there’s the trip back to Earth that must be considered. Is it wise to subject a newly born to such an experience? Then there’s also the issue of nationality of the said child.
Gerrit-Jan Zwenne, an adviser to SpaceLife Origin, said, ‘I think at some point this will happen anyway, so we better do it in a very open and transparent manner. If it’s somebody working on his own, in isolation, not in contact with the rest of the world, you may discover that something happens and you can’t reverse it.’