Putting Astronauts Into Stasis Might Make Mars Transit Easier, Enable Colonization Of Red Planet

Coburn Palmer

NASA and SpaceX have both announced plans to land on Mars, but the long travel time to the red planet makes the transit difficult and dangerous and colonization even more so.

Putting astronauts and potential red planet settlers into hibernation might be the answer to the many difficulties of such a long trip, SpaceWorks president and chief operating officer John Bradford told Space.

"We're not going to colonize Mars, or really settle it, sending four or six or eight people at a time every two years; we're going to have to send larger numbers. I don't know any other way that you're going to send hundreds of people to Mars."

When SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announced his intentions to colonize Mars, he admitted the transit would be deadly for at least some of the travelers, according to the Washington Post.

"It's dangerous and probably people will die, and they'll know that. And then they'll pave the way, and ultimately it will be very safe to go to Mars, and it will very comfortable. But that will be many years in the future."

"That reduces the need for consumables in both nutrition and hydration, [and] oxygen demand. That translates to mass, and mass is a critical item trying to support these Mars missions."

With people crammed into small spaces for lengthy periods of time, the stress can build to insurmountable levels. NASA is so concerned about this dangerous stress that they isolated six scientists in a dome in Hawaii to study their stress levels, as Mars Society president Robert Zubrin told HowStuffWorks.

"It's like a dress rehearsal. When you're going to do a play, you want to see how it would work."

Using therapeutic hypothermia, SpaceX or NASA could ship large numbers of settlers to Mars quickly and safely and establish red planet colonies in our lifetime. They could be fed intravenously and restrained in crash couches installed in cabins with artificial gravity provided by rotating habitats.

What do you think of the idea of putting astronauts into hibernation for a Mars transit?

[Image via ThinkStock]