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November 02, 2000 06:59am
Space Science or Pornography: Quest Editor Speaks Out
Source: Quest: The History of Spaceflight Quarterly
by: Company Press Release

(ARLINGTON, VA) -- ``Quest: The History of Spaceflight Quarterly'' announced that it will discuss in historical detail sex and space flight in the U.S. and Russian space programs.

Among the topics that will be contained in this provocative article, ``The Psychological and Social Effects of Isolation on Earth and in Space,'' written by Peter Pesavento, were plans to film a sex documentary onboard the Mir Space Station, allegations of adultery by two Russian cosmonauts, and pornographic videos onboard space missions.

Many may find it odd that a scholarly history publication would tackle such an issue. According to the editor, Professor Stephen Johnson of the University of North Dakota, ``Pesavento's article breaks new ground in discussing the social and psychological issues of space flight from a historical perspective. Sexuality and gender relations is one of several topics that he addresses, all of which have been issues in human space flight in the past, and will be again in the future.''

Although there has been increasing interest in this topic, most notably a recent front-page article by the Washington Post written by Kathy Sawyer, the paper's NASA correspondent, the decision to publish this article in Quest was highly controversial. One area of particular concern to Professor Johnson and others at the journal was comments regarding methods of relieving stress by Dr. Victor Schneider, Chief Physician for NASA/Mir Phase I. ``I frankly, we don't know in long duration space flight whether cosmonauts or astronauts masturbate and relieve their sexual tension that way; there is, as long as they do it in private, and ah, it's a potential relief of sexual problems that ... may have occurred.'' Professor Johnson commented that, ``While this may grab some people's attention, really it is part of the a larger story of psychological issues of long-duration isolation. It is relevant to the story, and hence is appropriate.''

According to Professor Johnson, ``With expanded commercial activity onboard Mir planned and the launch of the International Space Station providing a permanent presence in space, we expect that this article will provide valuable insight to future researchers on this subject.''

Quest is published by Space Publications LLC (www.spacebusiness.com/quest) and edited by the University of North Dakota. Since 1992 it has provided articles and interviews on a range of subject matter from Apollo 11 to Russian Mars Missions to the Corona spy satellite. Articles are contributed from professional and amateur historians and are peer reviewed. A complete list of past articles can be found on the website.

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