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Would You Get Frozen in Time?

Also, cryonic travel is easier on the budget.

In my fictional Project Enterprise world, they have overcome the need for stasis for long flights by speeding up the flight time, though they would like to go further, of course. That’s the lovely thing about fiction, you can solve problems, well, fictionally. And if you never write the story about the scientists who figured it out, then you don’t have to explain it either. 

Which isn’t to say, I don’t try to filter real science into my books on occasion. In Lost Valyr, Dr. Rachel Grant has traveled to the Garradian Galaxy to see if she can find research on cryonics, so I thought it you might enjoy reading about where we are with cryogenics in the real world.

Humans are high maintenance. We need food, water, oxygen, and warmth to live. But we won’t find any of that in deep space. And even if we could live in a subzero void without nourishment, we’d go crazy living months on end in a cramped area with nothing to keep our minds busy. We just weren’t made for long space flights.

But, what if we could freeze our bodies in order to travel to the stars? Cold decelerates the heart and metabolic systems, so in a cryonic state we wouldn’t get cabin fever or need as much food or as much room.

Imagine astronauts resting in a peaceful state of suspended animation in upright glass tubes with padded backs. A one-armed robot in the center of them is checking the intravenous feeding tubes and the amounts of lipids, amino acid, dextrose, and sedatives keeping the travelers alive and warm. And, to prevent muscle atrophy, the robot periodically gives them mild electric shock treatments. 

Also, cryonic travel is easier on the budget. When you figure in the type of habitat and all the supplies needed to fly a fully conscious space crew, it’s excessively expensive compared to a cryonic crew. In fact, a crew of six would need 1,500 tons of supplies. Furthermore, a space shuttle can only lift around 25 tons into space, so it would take about 60 shuttle launches to get all that stuff to the astronauts.

Though we’re decades away from realizing cryonic space flight, it’s closer to science fact than you might think. In a 2014 NASA study, six astronauts spent 14 days in stasis, in a state of therapeutic hypothermia—lowered body temperature. However, 14 days isn’t long enough, astronauts would need to be in stasis closer to 140 days to travel to Mars, which is 34175415 miles away, a 6 to 9-month trip.

One plan is to rotate astronauts in and out of stasis, so at all times at least one of the crew members will be awake. Then they’ll spend a day or two out of cryonics to inspect and maintain the equipment and to check in with mission control for any updates.

At the end of their shift, they’ll wake up the crewmember who is next in turn.  However, even though they had such a deep sleep for so long don’t expect them to wake up as fresh as a daisy. They’ll probably experience episodes of wakefulness (minus awareness) and non-REM sleep while in stasis.

Halting life processes through cryonics will empower easier and cheaper flights to Mars and enable us to journey vast distances without aging. First, we must make advancements in technology before we can undertake the nine-month flight to the red planet. However, Spacecraft stasis chambers will likely develop into reality in three decades or less. 

Would you travel in stasis somewhere? Leave this world behind and “boldly go” somewhere else? 

Perilously yours,

Pauline

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She’s a scientist in the wrong galaxy. He’s an alien in the wrong century. Can their love reset a terrifying future? If you like heart-pounding chemistry, ragtag bands of misfits, and action-packed space battles, then you’ll love Pauline Baird Jones’ rollicking romance. Tap here to preorder the book today! 

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