The Crazy Plan to Deliver the First Baby in Space
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The Crazy Plan to Deliver the First Baby in Space

A startup has announced plans to host the
first live human birth IN SPACE. That’s right, A SPACE BABY! SpaceLife Origin aims to answer all our questions
about makin’ babies in space. The team consists of several entrepreneurs
and “business experts” as well as a small team of science advisors. And their 2024 mission, dubbed “Mission
Cradle” aims to have the first human baby born in space. Their website doesn’t include a terrible
amount of detail as to exactly how this mission will go down. But it does specify it will last 24-36 hours,
and involves a pregnant woman and a “trained, world class medical team” being launched
400km above earth to a space station. There, the woman will give birth before mom
and babe are returned to the surface. The website also adds that a “carefully
prepared and monitored process will reduce all possible risks.” But, as you can imagine, people are still
very concerned about the possible risks. For starters, this plan involves putting a
VERY pregnant woman under extreme g-forces. Astronauts typically experience roughly 3x
the force of gravity during rocket launches, and it can be even more if something goes
wrong. We don’t know what this amount of force
would do to a human mom or child. Then there are concerns about the safety of
actually delivering a baby up there- with no gravity to hold the mother to a delivery
bed or the doctors to the floor- things get complicated quickly. And don’t even get me started on the bodily
fluids. Then of course this newborn baby will have
to survive the treacherous return trip- one that involves hypersonic speeds, extreme temperatures,
and an often not-so-soft landing. But beyond the safety concerns, getting regulatory
approval for a mission like this could be extremely difficult. Experimentation on human EMBRYOS already faces
strict regulation and international ethical debate, so you can imagine the hurdles involved
with an experiment involving a full-term baby in space. But putting all of that aside, let’s say
they do actually manage to get this woman up there and she successfully gives birth. What would we expect for a baby born in microgravity? There have already be a handful of experiments
involving animal reproduction in space- rodents, fish, flies, and even jellyfish have all been
sent up there to pop out little ones. All of these tests resulted in live offspring,
so we know the fundamental birthing process can happen in microgravity. And pregnant rats sent to the ISS in 2001
gave birth to pretty healthy pups. Though they initially had underdeveloped vestibular
systems, after about 5 days that righted itself, and they were basically normal. But ISS data involving humans in microgravity
has shown there are negative health effects to being in space. Bone loss and altered immune systems are common,
which could present challenges for space baby #1. People have also raised concerns about what
the recycled oxygen on board would do to the baby’s lungs during its first breaths- and
concerns about the increased radiation levels of outer space. Additional research suggests that stressful
pregnancy and birthing experiences can affect the growth and development of a baby, and
it’s hard to imagine giving birth on a space station would be a calm experience. Then, all of these potential issues are compounded
by the baby’s return to earth and first experiences with gravity. Will a baby born in space be able to acclimate
to the gravity of Earth? It’s obviously a crazy plan, and the list
of unknowns is lengthy. But SpaceLife Origin stresses that this kind
of experiment is bound to happen one way or another, publicly or otherwise. Learning how to reproduce in space will be
crucial if our species aims to colonize other planets. Though, admittedly putting a pregnant woman
in a rocket might not be the most elegant solution. What do you think about all this? Do you think it’ll work? Let us know in the comments. And to learn about the challenges that have
faces space missions of the past- check out our Apollo series! Thanks for watching.

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