VOICES Voices Icon Ideas and Insight From Explorers


Making Babies in Space

Alien cultures might be happy to know that if we humans ever do start colonizing the universe, we may have a few problems going forth and multiplying.

A team of Japanese scientists has found that microgravity significantly lowers the birth rate in mammals, based on their study of mice embryos subjected to space-like conditions in the lab.

In previous studies in rats, scientists had seen that microgravity during space flight lowered sperm counts and even caused the poor rodents’ testicles to weigh less. [Rat-testicle weigher sounds like a job for Mike Rowe to me!]

Meanwhile, mouse-embryo cells flown aboard the space shuttle Columbia in 1996 failed to yield any mousey babies.

Reporting in the open-access journal PLoS ONE, Sayaka Wakayama, of the Laboratory for Genomic Reprogramming in Kobe, and colleagues note that the issue warrants further study, but sending actual mice into space and seeing if they breed presents a few challenges.

“If mice were to be taken into space, they would be exposed to strong vibrations and hypergravity during the launch, and then suddenly exposed to the additional stress of µG conditions. In these situations, it is highly unlikely that the mice would copulate during the flight period,” the study authors write.

The solution? Mouse in vitro fertilization, or IVF.

Using a device that kinda looks like a robot’s rotissomat to simulate microgravity, the scientists fertilized mouse embryos and allowed them to develop in conditions like what they would experience in space.

The eggs were then taken out and transferred to waiting mouse moms. The fertilization part worked as expected, and the mice gave birth to 75 healthy space babies.


“All these offspring appeared normal, and randomly selected animals were later proven fertile by natural mating,” the authors note.

But that’s just a 35 percent birth rate, compared to the 63 percent of successfully born IVF mice that got to develop under normal Earth gravity.

Next steps, the authors say, will be to see how well embryo implantation works in space.

If a colony ever does get built on the moon or Mars, I suppose eventually we’ll want to extend such studies to humans, although I’m guessing much more work will be done between now and then on whether we can make babies in space the old-fashioned way.

Any volunteers for this important medical research?


  1. wilma
    August 2, 2010, 5:08 am

    Awesome stuff, thank you for your time and efforts
    Wilma –
    Work from home UK | Stay at home mom jobs

  2. diyRoberts
    July 30, 2010, 1:01 pm
  3. WillPR
    July 30, 2010, 10:12 am
  4. gengye
    July 27, 2010, 6:10 am

    I am really shocked by your blog posts. This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free and I am looking forward for such information for a long time. cheap jordans, women jordan

  5. hurricane
    July 21, 2010, 7:23 pm

    Thank you for another great article. Where else could anyone get that kind of information in such a perfect way of writing? I have a presentation next week, and I am on the look for such information.
    Dash Mats

  6. WillPR
    July 5, 2010, 7:29 pm

    Excellent research
    WPR – Expert in EuroMillions, E Lottery and E-Lottery

  7. inter4522
    June 30, 2010, 10:47 pm

    WE have to definitely do more research about this in the future. I am not sure if this 100% or not.
    hartford accutane lawyer

  8. diyRoberts
    June 22, 2010, 8:55 pm

    Crazy stuff, but amazing at the same time. I’ve had trouble breading fish on earth, let along in space!!
    WR – Cheap Web Hosting and Cheap Website Hosting

  9. js
    June 22, 2010, 8:42 pm

    This is amazing! Well done guys
    Soni DF – Owner of DFBeds selling Faux Leather Beds, Cheap Single Beds and Kids Single Beds

  10. jp2506
    June 21, 2010, 11:00 pm

    Hey, I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part people lack substance but I just wanted to make a quick comment to say GREAT blog!
    I’ll be checking in on a regularly now.
    Keep up the good work!
    Air Insurgent
    James Hardy Jerseys