In "Passengers," a 2016 science-fiction thriller film two space travelers wake up 90 years too soon from an induced hibernation on board a spaceship bound for a new planet. From "Aliens" to "Interstellar," Hollywood has long used suspended animation to overcome the difficulties of deep space travel, but the once-fanciful sci-fi staple is becoming scientific fact. The theory is that a hibernating crew could stay alive over vast cosmic distances, requiring little food, hydration or living space, potentially slashing the costs of interstellar missions and eradicating the boredom of space travel. But the technology has always been unattainable outside the fertile imaginations of filmmakers from Woody Allen and Ridley Scott to James Cameron and Christopher Nolan—until now.
Atlanta-based Spaceworks Enterprises is using a $500,000 grant from NASA to leverage techniques used on brain trauma and heart attack patients to develop "low metabolic stasis" for missions to Mars and the asteroid belt.
"It takes about six months to get out to Mars... There are a lot of demands, a lot of support equipment required to keep people alive even during that period," said SpaceWorks CEO John Bradford.