The aim was set by Dr Irina Ogneva, head of laboratory of cell biophysics of the Institute of Medical and Biological Problems of Russian Academy of Sciences.

“We have always been first in space, and would want the first human to be born in space to be a citizen of Russia,” she said, triggering a space baby race.

But she admitted that so far Russian cosmonauts have refused to donate sperm obtained in space for scientific study.

Dr Ogneva did not make clear whether she expects the first space baby to be conceived as well as born in orbit.


ETHICAL PROBLEMS: The aim is an ‘experiment with human embryos’ (Pic: GETTY)

“From a moral and ethical standpoint this is an experiment, and experiment with human embryos”

Dr Irina Ogneva

On a baby being born in orbit, she said: “We should take care about the person and not patriotic populism as the cornerstone.

“Most important is not the fact [for the baby] to be born, but [for the child] to be born healthy.

“And in this sense we are, beyond any doubt, competitive, because we hold the leadership in many studies.”

The leading scientist said: “It is too early to set a goal but it can be set as an aim.”

And she admitted: “From a scientific point of view, the birth of any mammal in space is an aim that can be achieved.

“From a moral and ethical standpoint this is an experiment, and experiment with human embryos.”


ZERO GRAVITY: Life in space is incredibly difficult (Pic: NASA)

On the lack of sperm samples from space, Dr Ogneva admitted Russian spacemen on the International Space Station have refused to cooperate.

“We cannot run such a routine procedure as cosmonauts giving sperm,” she said.

“We are constantly running into moral, psychological and ethical obstacles.

“There are no volunteers among cosmonauts.”

Requests to give samples are “met with smiles and disapproval”, she said.

Another senior researcher Lyubov Serova from the same institute – which is closely involved in space work – said: “Development of a mammal foetus during a space flight is possible.


‘DISPROVAL’: Cosmonauts are reportedly not keen on donating their sperm to the project (Pic: GETTY)

“So it is possible to carry and give birth to a healthy child on a space flight.

“From medical standpoint, it is not a very big problem.”

Some experts however have warned about high radiation that a foetus would face during a nine-month flight.

Others have suggested that humans born in space will never be able to live on Earth because they will not have developed to cope with our planet’s gravity.

There are no known cases of sex in the weightless conditions of space so far.

One comment on the institute’s site read: “So when are we having space sex experiments? The whole world is waiting. How will it go?

“Yes, it is a delicate topic. But we can’t avoid it. Let Russia be the pioneer in it.”

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