This paper examines the ways in which gender, sex, and reproduction in the U.S. space program are represented as social, cultural, and scientific problems. In 1992, a married couple served on the crew of a U.S. space shuttle, prompting a flurry of public curiosity and controversy over the possibility of “celestial intimacy” between these astronauts. Ironically, countless missions prior to this historic flight had not raised similar issues of human desire and fecundity, attesting to the “legitimacy” of the heterosexual paradigm. Drawing on a range of data sources and theoretical perspectives, we analyze discourses and practices through which female bodies in particular are constructed as problematic, a gendered process which, in turn, renders sexuality and reproduction in space as controversial. We argue that contemporary institutional, cultural, and scientific accounts of gender, sex, and reproduction in space inscribe both contemporary and future scenarios, with potentially negative implications.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science