Suspended Animation is one of the best options that would take care of a zillion questions but is it a possibility?
Think of all the areas of space travel where the calculations would become simpler if it were. From room on the spacecraft – the living quarters wouldn’t be housing anyone walking around or keeping them entertained, food would not need to be varied and psychologically the getting there would be a non-issue making the exploration part more vigorous. A lower metabolic rate could mean less oxygen taken in. Over-all each of these possibilities amount to lower weight for the ship and hence less fuel necessitated and ultimately a lower cost. Oh, and we could go deeper into space than previously considered.
Now that you are considering that perhaps you are thinking: ‘yeah, but I bet we have a long way to go before even testing that theory!’ – well actually no.
Before I offer you really neat theories let me first tell you about the realities. Technology that a company called “Spaceworks Enterprises” is looking at is therapeutic hypothermia – an actual treatment that is utilized already in the cases of medical concerns. Granted this method has never been tried on a healthy person and never longer than 14 days, but it is more than a theory.
Another factor that is positive is that although it has been used in cases where it is a last resort of sorts, there are medical trials going on currently. Not with the addition of the space variable, but the data will certainly help!
The next phase of research will involve longer term testing on animals, then humans, and eventually, humans in space – probably on the ISS . Speaking of the ISS – a test on the human body in space for long term (1 year) is about to commence. Two astronauts - NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian Cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko make up the prime crew for the mission – both are experienced ISS residents. Their year starts in spring of this year (2015).
Several years ago there was a discovery in physics – glassy water. There are many phases – water goes through gas, liquid, solid, plasma, supercritical fluid, degenerate gas – glassy water has been determined to be yet another one. This is a phase that when used in cryogenics prevents the tearing of the vessels from the forming ice because It is a super cooled liquid that never achieves the crystallization that causes all the problems with freezing a person and then bringing him back!
Basically this is one idea that isn’t going away and is being worked on now so it may be ready when we need it – like in ten or fifteen years!
As the glassy water option involves a deeper dive into the cryogenics pool my personal money for the short term is ontherapeutic hypothermia – which involves a mere 5 or 10 degrees of cooling. Either way, hoping it will also prevent any snoring!