Recent medical progress is quickly advancing our ability to induce torpor, a deep sleep hibernation-like state, in humans for extended periods of time. The authors propose to place crew and passengers in a prolonged hypothermic state during space-mission transit phases (outbound and Earth-return) to significantly reduce the system mass, power, habitable volume, and medical challenges associated with long-duration space exploration. The process and application is based on an emerging medical practice known as Therapeutic Hypothermia (TH) or Targeted Temperature Management (TTM). TH is a medical treatment in which an injured patient’s body temperature is lowered to 32-34°C (89-93°F) in order to slow the body’s metabolism and minimize ischemic injury. This paper focuses on the medical aspects associated with achieving this induced torpor state for deep space missions. The authors have assembled a team of experts in multiple medical specialties to access the feasibility of extended duration hypothermia and administration of TPN, overcoming the long-term medical complications that may occur, and advantages of placing the crew in hibernation. Detailed descriptions of the current state-of-the-art for each process, recommendations from the medical team, and discussions of medical advantages and potential medical challenges are presented. Designs for crew support systems that can enable prolonged stasis periods in deep space habitats are also discussed.
Bibliographic Reference: Schaffer, M., Bradford, J., Talk, D., "A Feasible, Near-Term Approach to Human Stasis for Long-Duration Deep Space Missions", IAC-16-B3.7.10, International Astronautical Congress 2016, Guadalajara, Mexico, Sept. 26-30 2016