Described as 'a small step for a baby but a giant baby-step for mankind', here is a proposed scientific venture, Mission Cradle, that has the ambitious objective of delivering a baby in space, just 250 miles above the Earth in 2024. This is neither a gimmick nor science fiction but a serious endeavour made by a Dutch company named SpaceLife Origin. It plans to send an expectant mother and a team of medical staff into the orbit for 36-hour delivery mission in the cosmos.
The Netherlands-based company is looking for volunteers who must have to their credit two flawless births previously. Driven by the pious intention of setting the stage for mankind to establish colonies on other planets, the company has undertaken this mission. Giving birth on a space station will only be seen as a rehearsal for reproduction on planetary colonies. The expectant mother would not be exposed to G-force and the orbit with the minimum radiation would be chosen for the motherhood mission so that both the mother and the baby are least exposed.
If celebrated physicist Stephen Hawking is to be believed the mankind's future lies in colonisation of space. So this mission will be a test case of how the unique human journey from embryonic foetus to a baby born comes about in space. Obviously, there is a risk both for the volunteer mother and her baby. Not every mother will subject her to this space-birth trial but of course there are some who have dedicated themselves to the cause of humanity knowing full well the risks involved in the experiments and research carried out with and on them. The logic becomes compelling when one knows that the Earth can perish in no time and if the human kind has to survive, it must make other planets its homes. Whether other planets will be habitable for the inhabitants of Earth is however a different proposition.
When a woman's labour in congenial environment is considered a serious matter, how risky it may be in inhospitable conditions needs no elaboration. Some experts claim that birth in space can cause permanent damage to a baby's brain. One expects that the medics who accompany the selected mother for performing the delivery in space also take all possible cautions so much so that they can be of help in any emergency there. The entire space capsule or station is likely to be an ambulance in the outer space where no outside help will be available. If the birth takes place smoothly, the mission will be accomplished. But this is just the beginning of the experiment.
Next comes the arduous task of monitoring the growth of the baby and the mother's health condition. However, of greater interest is the baby. More such missions will be needed to see if multi-planetary reproduction of the human kind is feasible. So far, the Mars is the possible colony man sets his sights on. Maybe, just maybe, there are other planets with more favourable climate and weather for the human species to live in and thrive. Whatever it is, it is worth trying to see if procreation of this species on other planets will be possible. There will be further attempts to see if couples will be willing to go into orbit for natural insemination and birth of babies. This time though, IVF (in-vitro fertilisation) has been preferred for safety reasons.
Much depends on the success of the proposed mission. Others will definitely try their hands by employing advanced technologies and in better conditions in the future to make the thing possible. As the first attempt of its kind, the SpaceLife Origin deserves kudos. Now all will be waiting to see how the volunteers respond. Selection will start in 2022 so that at least 30 of the volunteers can be chosen for timing their delivery date with the space mission. The lucky woman will be she who goes into labour at the right time. Best of wishes to the motherhood mission.
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