Spaceborn United plans to organize the conception and birth of a child in space. The head of this Dutch company, Egbert Edelbrock, is studying the possibility of natural conception and potential childbirth in the partial gravity of Mars. By the end of 2024, it is planned to begin working with mouse cells.
The Dutch company Spaceborn United is conducting a series of experiments during which conditions of artificial gravity are created. This is necessary to understand how in the future people will be able to continue the human race on other planets.
This question arose after it became clear that humanity had entered the era of space tourism, deep space exploration and settlements of people in the near future on the Moon, in low-Earth orbit and on Mars.
“If you want to have independent populations outside of Earth, and if you really want them to be independent, you will also have to solve the reproductive problem. Therefore, humanity must become a multi-planetary species,” company director Egbert Edelbruck told AFP news agency.
Studying the stages of procreation in space improves understanding of reproductive biology and provides opportunities for improving assisted reproductive treatments on Earth.
Although the prospect of the first sexual contacts in space may seem utopian, the Dutchman is confident that during his lifetime he will witness the conception and birth of an alien person.
The main obstacle is the lack of gravity, Spaceborn United primarily aims to achieve the conception of an embryo in space.
For ethical reasons, the company is working on breeding mice first before considering sending human sperm and eggs far from Earth. To make this easier, they developed a disk that mixes the cells. British company Frontier Space Technologies CEO Akil Shamsul describes it as “a space station for your cells.” The embryo will then be frozen to halt development and also to protect it during recovery under difficult conditions, including vibration and gravitational forces.
“The adult body can take some differences into account and adjust, but we don't want to expose a growing, more vulnerable fetus to these different variables. Therefore, the ideal environment must first be created,” notes company director Egbert Edelbruck.
A launch using mouse cells is planned for late next year, with the first launch, aimed at producing a human embryo, expected to take “five or six years,” according to Edelbroek.
“This is a sensitive topic. “You end up exposing vulnerable human cells and embryos to the dangers of space, radiation much higher than on Earth, a different gravitational environment,” Edelbrook shares the difficulties of the work and the difficulties of obtaining results.
Journalists from the German publication Bild emphasize that studying the problems of reproduction in space is a complex topic not only from a scientific point of view, but also from an ethical point of view, so such work is usually done by private companies, and not by NASA, which is afraid to spend taxpayers’ money on such delicate areas.
Edelbroek believes his company is the only one seeking to develop a human embryo in space and hopes that natural birth in space will one day be achieved, acknowledging that the road will be “long.”
The current development of space tourism is also a factor to consider: a new type of traveler may want to be the first to become pregnant in space, said an entrepreneur who is raising awareness in the sector about the risks.