The Future of Space Travel is Almost Here


Science or science fiction? Scientists are working on deep-sleep technology.


By: OMER SHACHNAI  
Published: March 6th 2011
in News » World

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Sleep tight: It has long been said that space is the final frontier and in the last fifty years incredible achievements have been made, but man is still in his infancy in the exploration of space. However, scientists are currently working on a new Sci-fi-like technology which will significantly boost man’s presence and foothold in the endless sea of stars.

 

So how can you survive a three year space trip without losing it? Scientists from Stanford University in the US believe they have the answer- just sleep it off, like the bears do all throughout winter.

 

Researchers are developing a new hibernation mode, especially designed for astronauts. They are hoping to slow down the astronauts' metabolism rate, just like a bear's winter sleep, thus achieving extremely long flights, which at the end of- the spacemen will be able to function normally and return to action.

 

But there is a huge setback to overcome- man’s metabolism rate, which does not change in the same pace of technology. Even if travelling to other planets as far as Mars was possible technically- the human body would still remain a problem. So, the guys from Stanford believe that if they can make the astronauts sleep as tight as bears, they would survive the trip.

 

Now let’s crunch some numbers: Black Alaskan bears sleep seven months a year, that is almost 60%. During this time, they do not eat or drink at all. Even when the heart rate drops to 14 beats-per-minute and their metabolism rate slows down significantly, they keep their health. If the system succeeds, man will be able to survive for a much longer time out there.

 

Moreover, the success of the research could help mankind in other ways in addition to space-travel. The initiative could help reduce the human body’s need for oxygen and “thus, it could also help save life,” explained Craig Heller, head of the program. “I always thought that in such a long voyage, it would be nice to downgrade the metabolism rate or ‘suspend the soul’. It may sound like science fiction, but you can understand the logic,” he said.



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