Space. The final frontier. Where one goes to seek out new life and new civilizations, boldly going where no man has gone before. A place where try as they might, no pop star has been able to venture on their journey of obscene privilege and general access to shit most poor people could barely dream of. Until now.
Last week, Richard Branson announced that Justin Bieber and his manager Scooter Braun will be making the journey into space as passengers on his Virgin Galactic commercial space program. I know you have a lot of questions about exactly what Justin Bieber might be doing up there, so I called up some space experts in order to answer all of your questions about Justin Bieber going to space.
So is Justin Bieber, like, actually going to space for-real for-real?
Eh, sort of. It really depends on your definition of “space.” He’s not going to Mars or anything, but if by “Justin Bieber is going to space” you mean “Justin Bieber will take an aircraft into the sky and out of it to the point where he’ll have freed himself from the pull of gravity,” then yes, Justin Bieber is going to space.
He’ll be flying on Virgin Galactic, the goofily-named brainchild of Richard Branson which is one of the small but growing number of commercial space programs being offered to the public. I spoke with Reuben Metcalf, avowed space enthusiast and founder of I Dream of Space, a company that offers normal people the opportunity to buy one of 25,000 chances to win a ticket on a commercial spaceline. “That’s more an effort to get to Zero G,” he says of Virgin Galactic. “You basically do this big sort of parabola and you can experience weightlessness.” As for what these programs are referring to when they say “space,” he tells me that anything anything that passes the Kármám Line—the barrier between the earth’s atmosphere and outer space—is technically space. And while that's pretty cool, it doesn’t add up to much time being in space. The Kármám Line is about 69 miles up in the air. “At this point,” Metcalf says “you’re experiencing microgravity, which is gravity that’s so small that you can’t really tell that it’s there. I think Virgin gets you up there for about eight to twelve minutes.”
If that sounds kinda lame, don’t worry. It gets lamer. Not only will Justin Bieber be up in space for twelve minutes max, he won’t even be taking off in a rocket ship. Virgin Galactic’s ships take off like normal planes, but with a rocket attached to them. Once they reach a certain altitude, the rocket goes off, which gets you to the Kármám line.
Well, that’s stupid. Is Justin Bieber going to have sex in space?
In all likelihood, no. He’ll be going up there with eight other people, so he’s not going to have a chance to get his celestial bang on.
But let’s just say hypothetically, what if Justin Bieber went up there in a ship that was just a pilot, him, and a sexual partner, and they decided to spend their eight to twelve minutes in space having sex. Could Justin Bieber have sex in space?
It’s complicated. So far, no one has had sex in space. Metcalf told me that NASA has sent a married couple up into space, but “When asked about whether or not they’d consummated in zero gravity, their official response was, ‘No response.’” So we really have precedent for how having sex in space would go.
The main issue with space sex is the lack of gravity. One of the things that makes sex on earth really convenient and possible is that gravity helps your partner’s sex parts stay connected. If Justin Bieber were to try to have sex in space, after the first thrust he and his partner would be sent flying in opposite directions and into the bulkheads, and suddenly you’ve got two bleeding naked people which, to most, isn’t very sexy.
There had to be some sort of solution to the logistics of Justin Bieber having sex in space, so I called up Samuel Coniglio, a space tourism researcher and former president of the Space Tourism Society. He also delivered the keynote address at Arse Elektronika—more or less a sex conference for nerds—on the matter of sex in space, and appeared on a History Channel documentary that was literally called “Sex in Space,” so if that doesn’t make him a Space Sexpert I don’t know what would. As for the negation of centrifugal force (centrifuckal force?), “He could strap someone down to the bulkhead if he wanted to get kinky. Or, he could have a sleeping bag type situation with Velcro, or he could use my Snuggle Tunnel.”
The Snuggle Tunnel is a product designed by Coniglio specifically to tackle the issue of space sex. “Part of it’s attached to the bulkhead. It’s a tube that stretches out and has enough room for people to maneuver in, but is just small enough so people don’t fly too far.”
Wait, let’s back up a second. You’re telling me that if Justin Bieber went to space and successfully had sex there, he’d technically be the first person to in space?
What are the odds that Justin Bieber will die in space?
There’s pretty much no way that would happen, because at this point the stakes are too high for a commercial spaceline to fail. If there were some sort of catastrophic accident and the biggest pop singer on the planet were to die because of Virgin Galactic, it would probably set commercial space efforts back decades. Which means that there’s no way we’d ever get to go to space in our lifetimes if Justin Bieber dies in space. Which would fucking suck.
Statistically, however, it's another story. Under the most liberal definition of “space,” 537 people have been. Of those 537, a total of 18 have died in accidents associated with spaceflight. Therefore, there’s about a 3.3% chance that Justin Bieber will die in space.
Can Justin Bieber smoke weed in space?
Regardless of the legalities, that would be a terrible idea because a lit blunt uses up a bunch of oxygen, and if you use up all of the oxygen on a spaceship you just die. So that would be a terrible idea.
Uh, edibles? Or cocaine?
If we’re talking drugs that won’t deplete your precious oxygen supply, that gets a little hazy. For a better explanation of the legalities of doing drugs in space, I got in touch with Michael J. Listner, an attorney who specializes in Space Law.
The thing about space is that no one actually owns it. “Under the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, no nation can claim sovereignty over space. It’s open to all nations for free access,” Listner told me. “The best way to put it is what’s in the Outer Space Treaty itself: ‘Outer Space is the providence of all mankind, but no one nation has exclusive jurisdiction over it.’”
So if no nation has jurisdiction over space, does this mean that Justin Bieber could have an insane, coke-fueled sex party for his fifteen minutes there?
Sorry, no. Listner explains, “The Outer Space Treaty grants jurisdiction over citizens who perform space activities.” Specific countries, he says, “have control and ownership over a spacecraft but also jurisdiction over its citizens. The same thing goes as private individuals—they still have jurisdiction over and responsibility for their citizens when they’re doing space activities.
What if Justin Bieber killed a guy on his Virgin Galactic flight?
This is a real question that I asked the real Space Lawyer. He said, “That’s a good question. We haven’t been to that point yet. My guess is that the answer would be since a commercial spacecraft would be a US mission, under the Outer Space Treaty and the laws we’ve made around the Outer Space Treaty, the US would still have jurisdiction over that spacecraft and over its personnel. So when they returned to Earth, they would be prosecuted under US law in a Federal Court.”
Really? There’s no way for Justin Bieber to do some super crazy consequence-free shit in space?
There’s, like, one technicality that’s pretty hypothetically interesting but isn’t going to happen. Under the principles that Listner outlined above, countries have jurisdiction over the shit they send to space. This means that on the International Space Station, which is made up of different modules sent up by different countries, different laws apply to different parts of the ISS. But Justin Bieber can’t legally smoke weed on the Dutch part of the International Space Station, both because that doesn’t exist and because he’s only going to be in space for 15 minutes.
What if Justin Bieber had to poop in space? How would he do that?
Dude, he’ll be up there for fifteen minutes. He can hold it.
What if he had to poop because his weed cookies had laxatives in them?
I asked this question to Metcalf, and he said, “Basically, it involves a tube and patience.” He then sent me a link that explained thigh clamps are also involved.
Above is a device that would allow Justin Bieber to take a shit in space.
Will Justin Bieber bring his pet monkey to space?
No, Justin Bieber is a terrible monkey parent and ditched it in Germany after Instagramming a few cute pictures with it. Justin Bieber never loved his monkey because Justin Bieber is incapable of love. Sorry.
What would happen to Justin Bieber’s body if it were exposed to the vacuum of space?
Well, he’d be fucked.
But how would he be fucked? Would he explode?
It’s a common misconception that being exposed to the vacuum of space makes you explode. In reality, Justin Bieber would have about fifteen seconds before he passed out from a lack of oxygen, and two minutes before he actually died. Any exposed areas would swell and his blood might boil up, but he wouldn’t explode. If Justin Bieber were exposed to the vacuum of space and decided to try to hold his breath, that would be a terrible idea, because the difference between the pressure in his lungs and the pressure of the vacuum would probably cause his lungs to pop. Scooter Braun would have about two minutes to save Justin Bieber in the vacuum of space before he died.
Okay, last question. What are the physics behind the saying, “In space, no one can hear Justin Bieber scream?”
Sound can’t travel in space because on a physical level, sound is a bunch of vibrations working their way through a medium of some sort. By definition, a vacuum is the absence of a medium. So, Justin Bieber could try to scream in space but it wouldn’t work because he would be screaming into a void of nothingness.
Want to go to space? We partnered with I Dream of Space to offer you a chance to do just that. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your favorite Justin Bieber song and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a chance to space.
Drew Millard saw Kanye West perform live last night. He's on Twitter - @drewmillard
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