ATLANTA (SpaceWorks PR) — SpaceWorks Enterprises, Inc. (SEI) is pleased to release an update to its research into a human stasis approach at the 2016 International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Guadalajara, Mexico.
The concept involves placing the crew of a Mars mission into a prolonged hypothermic state during the in-space transit phases, both Mars-outbound and Earth-return. With Phase II support and funding provided by the NASA HQ’s NIAC program, SpaceWorks has identified four key areas to further focus their efforts and assembled an invaluable medical team to assist in the research.
Placing a crew in torpor, an induced deep sleep state achieved via mild hypothermia, during the in-space mission phases appears to address a number of the medical challenges associated with space flight, including: bone demineralization, muscle atrophy, increased intracranial pressure (IIP), radiation exposure, and psycho-social problems. Furthermore, the reduced metabolic rates achieved through torpor relax the mission requirements on consumable food and water, and positively impact the design of the habitat’s environmental control, life support, and power systems.
Under the 24-month effort, SpaceWorks has identified four key areas to focus on as they continue their research of the torpor concept. Specifically:
- Medical assessments and evaluations including metabolic suppression approaches and the prolonged physiological impact of hypothermia
- Mars mission habitat design refinement with a focus on radiation assessment and shielding as well as internal thermal environment
- Extensibility beyond Mars to Martian moons, Main Belt asteroids, and the Jupiter and Saturn systems
- Technology roadmap development to identify key challenges and maturation costs
SpaceWorks has assembled an expert medical and research team to address challenges astronauts face with deep space flight. The medical team lead is Dr. Doug Talk, Departmental Director of Surgical Services at the Naval Air Station in Lemoore, CA. Team members are: Dr. Kelly Drew, a Neuroscientist and Professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks; Dr. Alejandro Rabinstein, Medical Director of Neuroscience in the Intensive Care Unit of the Mayo Clinic; Dr. Matthew Kumar, Department of Anesthesiology Chair at the Mayo Clinic; and Dr. Leroy Chiao, NASA Astronaut and Commander of International Space Station Expedition 10.
“Following up on our IAC 2015 presentation showcasing the capabilities of our technology towards enabling transport of 100 colonists to Mars, we are pleased to be continuing this important research and breakthrough capability with support from NASA”, said Dr. John Bradford, NIAC Fellow and President/COO of SpaceWorks Enterprises, Inc. (SEI).
The findings and associated presentation given by Mark Schaffer at IAC 2016 are available here:
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