More evidence that the "it's lonely out in space" meme articulated in Elton John's "Rocket Man" and other similarly themed pop culture offerings is endangered:
They put the first man in space, then the first tourist. Now the Russians could make one wealthy couple the first members of the 240-mile-high club.
In its latest attempt to develop space tourism, Russia is offering a pair of newlyweds the chance to swap Venice or Paris for a cosmic honeymoon on board the international space station.
For $US48 million ($65 million)—the cost of a pair of space return tickets—the couple could become the first to experience the uncharted joys of sex in zero gravity.
Somehow, that seems likely to generate more interest than Lance Bass blasting off.
And just so you know, along with highly publicized wastes of money such as launching an ancient John Glenn back into space as a "payload specialist," America's own NASA may have spent a good deal of taxpayer dollars studying the difficulty of zero-gravity sex:
In his book Living in Space, G. Harry Stine, a NASA technician who died in 1997, wrote that agency staff at the Marshall Space Flight Centre in Huntsville, Alabama, had used a buoyancy tank that simulated low-gravity conditions to test the possibilities of weightless sex.
"It was possible but difficult," he wrote, "and was made easier when a third person assisted by holding one of the others in place."
Pierre Kohler, a French scientific writer, claimed in another book that NASA had tested 20 positions by computer simulation and then arranged for two people to try the best 10 in zero gravity.
Only four were possible to reach without "mechanical assistance", according to Kohler. An elastic belt and an inflatable tunnel, like an open-ended sleeping bag, were needed for the other six.
NASA, for the record, denies ever having conducted such research. But for all of us who remember Capricorn One, such a denial simply confirms that the experiments took place.