SpaceWorks submitted a proposal to NASA in 2013 outlining technology that focused not on propulsion or advanced materials, but instead on affecting human biological systems and astronauts’ deep space travel habitat.
Its plan is simple: put the astronauts to sleep for about 80% of their voyage.
“I encountered this technology in the medical field called therapeutic hypothermia that places an individual into an inactive kind of sleep-like state,” said Bradford. “And they would cool the patient down for two or three days at a time, and that basically gives the body time to recover.”
According to Bradford, therapeutic hypothermia would provide a myriad of benefits. The crew would see reductions in the rates of muscle atrophy and bone loss from the lower metabolic state. He argues there is evidence that a “torpor state” could help build radiation shielding. Additionally, the space vessel would be stripped down to only the parts necessary to maintain the temperature of the habitat.
One design cuts the weight of NASA reference model from 45 tons to 20 tons for the SpaceWorks vessel for the same mission.