Why put the crew to sleep?

With the crew in a torpor state, we believe we can significantly reduce the mass and volume of the in-space habitat during the outbound and return segments of the mission. This ultimately reduces the entire launch mass for the system. The habitat itself will be a very small module, nominally containing 4 to 6 crew members each in their own sleep chamber. By contrast, a typical habitat for an active crew is required to have space for food preparation/eating, exercise, science stations, bathrooms, sleeping quarters, entertainment, etc.

Many of the psychological-social challenges of prolonged space flight can be eliminated with this system. On a Mars mission, it is typically assumed that a small crew will be confined to a very small space for an extended period of time. The crew is under a lot of stress, a long way from home, and has no way to abort if there is a problem. This environment creates a lot of requirements and constraints pertaining to crew selection, increases the burden on the medical teams to monitor mental well-being, and consequently adds uncertainty to the mission. A lot of these issues are solved if the crew is asleep during peak periods of stress and likely boredom. Ultimately, we think it will be the preferred way to travel! We are eliminating the most mundane portion of the mission. Just imagine going to sleep and waking up on Mars 6 months later, no worse for the wear!