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Why Are Astronauts Dating Each Other? February 7, 2007

Posted by Dan in Main, News, Science, Space.

Astronaut Lisa Nowak attempted to murder a colleague, Air Force Capt. Colleen Shipman, when it was discovered that another astronaut, Navy Commander Bill Oefelein, was having relationships with both women. As a result, NASA has agreed to revamp its psychological screening process. But, the question that many are asking is, why were astronauts allowed to date each other in the first place?

The answer actually has more to do with the speed of light, than any corporate convention. Science currently believes the speed at which light travels, 299,792,458 meters per second or 670,616,629 miles per hour. Yet, even at that extreme speed, the Universe is so large that a journey outside of our solar system to the nearest star, Proxima Centauri, would still take 4 and half years. At more realistic speeds, the trip could take hundreds. The problem because obvious… either we need to keep people alive for hundreds of years, or entire generations will live out their lives traveling between the stars. In response, NASA has gently been encouraging its astronauts to develop relationships between one another, to study that aspect of human interaction in space.

While NASA is reassessing its psych screening procedures for astronauts, perhaps they should also address the conduct between them. On the other hand, I believe NASA has just learned a very valuable lesson about relationships in space: They’re exactly like relationships on Earth.

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