NASA’s Cryosleep Chamber Could Help You Snooze Your Way to Mars

NASA is teaming up with a company called SpaceWorks to create a sleeping pod that could get astronauts into deep space. How does it work?

One of the most exciting space sleep projects is currently being developed at a company called SpaceWorks Enterprises. They’ve been working with NASA to develop a stasis chamber they say could keep astronauts asleep for 2 weeks at a time, and possibly longer.

SpaceWorks suggests astronauts stack these short hibernation periods back to back, with a couple of days in between to walk around and stretch out. The crew can then rotate waking and sleeping shifts, and in doing so can pass the 300 some days it would take to get to the Red Planet.

Unlike what you’ve probably seen in movies, this design isn’t for an individual sleep pod, but a shared sleeping chamber. The chamber works by lowering a group of astronaut’s body temperatures to 32 degrees celsius, then it sedates them to suppress the body’s reactions to the cold. The low temperature would put their bodies into a mild hypothermia, slowing down your metabolic rate and preventing injury from lack of oxygen.  

Aside from greatly reducing the necessary food and water for the mission, these stasis chambers could also have some other major benefits, like requiring a smaller area to be thoroughly protected from radiation.  The researchers also want to equip the chambers with artificial gravity, which could prevent a lot of the negative health effects associated with long term space travel.