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Space Hibernation Technology Seen In 'Passengers' May Soon Become A Reality

By Edge Ison , Dec 23, 2016 02:28 AM EST
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Space travel is a popular plot in the film industry. Suspended animation or induced hibernation is often an important plot element in most of these sci-fi movies.

Popular films that used this premise include "Forever Young", "Demolition Man", "Aliens", "Interstellar', and "Austin Powers". Some literary works also use suspended animation. Think "Rip Van Winkle", "Lost in Space", and even "Sleeping Beauty".

The same can be said with the Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence starrer, "Passengers". In the recently released movie, the characters of Pratt and Lawrence wake up 90 years earlier than planned after being in induced hibernation along with thousands of other individuals on board a spaceship on its way to another planet.

This scene is actually not far from reality.

According to BGR, scientists and innovators from SpaceWorks Enterprises are on hand to shift the concept from movie plot to something that can actually be done. NASA recently gave a $500,000 grant to the Atlanta-based company to help out n its quest to put people to sleep.

The idea is to develop "low metabolic stasis" or what is also referred to as hypometabolic stasis based on techniques used on patients who have suffered from heart attack and brain trauma. In other words, the company aims to utilize induced hypothermia.

Induced hypothermia is a medical technique wherein a trauma patient is subjected to low core temperature to reduce metabolism. At around 10 degrees Fahrenheit, the metabolism of a person is reduced by 70 percent. This process shuts down the patient for a few days. Now applying it to a six-month travel to Mars or a 120-year voyage to Homestead II is a complete different story which the people at SpaceWorks are willing to write.

According to SpaceWorks Enterprises CEO John Bradford, the travel to Mars takes around six months and that "there are a lot of demands, a lot of support equipment required to keep people alive even during that period".

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