NASA-funded study says cryogenic sleep may be key to space travel

USA (Next Media) – A NASA-funded study written by aerospace engineering company SpaceWorks says that keeping astronauts unconscious during long flights in space cuts down on the equipment and resources needed on the shuttle, and also eliminates the negative psychological effects of long hauls in space.

According to SpaceWorks’ study on cryogenic sleep, which borrowed ideas from doctors, a human body can be forced into a state of hibernation by simply lowering the body temperature to 93 degrees Fahrenheit. The lowered body temperature causes the body’s heart rate and metabolism to decrease, effectively placing it in a state of unconsciousness.

The body will subsist on intravenous feeding tubes that pump the necessary lipids, amino acids and various nutrients into the body. Other tubes will drain urine as well as monitor the body.

According to mockups, a torpor-statis habitat can hold six astronauts at once and robotic arms will ensure everyone’s basic needs are met. In their study, SpaceWorks says that they imagine the crew would wake up in a staggered pattern so that at least one person is awake at all times.

So far humans are only able to maintain stasis for two weeks, although the trip from Earth to Mars is expected to take up to nine months.

NASA has declined to fund the second stage of the research though and SpaceWorks, citing its potential therapeutic benefits, is now looking into using the technology here on Earth.

SOURCES: Digital Journal, NASA, CNN