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Sex Lives of Astronauts

Matt Schudel

Over the weekend, I wrote the obituary of a remarkable but little-known NASA scientist named Mel Averner. He was, among many other things, the coauthor of the first serious scientific article proposing how human beings could live on Mars.
He was a brilliant man, learned in all kinds of sciences, with a PhD in microbiology. But he also had an expert knowledge of classical music, architecture and garden design -- plus went to law school and got a master's degree in public health, apparently just because he had time on his hands.

In 1990, a musical group called Digital Underground came out with an album called "Sex Packets," claiming that a NASA scientist had developed this hitherto unknown item "to satisfy astronauts' sexual appetites during space travel."

Averner -- who was in charage of life science research for NASA would have known about such things -- described the "sex packets" as "absolute nonsense." Then he explained: "First, it would be impossible to satisfy the carnal urges of astronauts. Secondly, to my knowledge, unbridled lust has never interfered with a space mission."

By Matt Schudel |  March 5, 2009; 11:20 AM ET  | Category:  Matt Schudel
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