NASA decided to have their own form of “America Got Talent” and started its Innovative Advanced Concepts program. The prize money is quite something: Phase 1 awards are worth about $100,000. The teams who have made it to the finish line will then start a nine-month initial analysis study. If this phase has been completed successfully then the next phase starts, which again includes a great deal of money, $500,000 to be exact, and 2 more years of study, analysis and development. NIAC program executive Jay Falker commented: “These new Phase 1 selections include potential breakthroughs for Earth and space science, diverse operations and the potential for new paths that expand human civilization and commerce into space,” Enough about the nitty-gritty, lets talk actual concepts. There were 12 ideas, mainly focused on scientific fields, however out of those twelve the two most practical for our, everyday life, might be a 3D printer who can actually print human tissue, and the project on: “how to emulate bears and other animals who hibernate in order for astronauts to be in the same type of state when they head into space.” Therefore NASA funds hibernation project, easy travel guaranteed for outer space, as well as for us mere mortals, in the future.
John Bradford of Spaceworks Engineering, the man who will bring us in to torpor, stated on NASA’s website: “The idea of suspended animation for interstellar human spaceflight has often been posited as a promising far-term solution for long-duration spaceflight. A means for full cryo-preservation and restoration remains a long way off still. However, recent medical progress is quickly advancing our ability to induce deep sleep states (i.e. torpor) with significantly reduced metabolic rates for humans over extended periods of time. NASA should leverage these advancements for spaceflight as they can potentially eliminate a number of very challenging technical hurdles, reduce the IMLEO for the system, and ultimately enable feasible and sustainable missions to Mars.” Therefore NASA funds Spaceworks hibernation project, easy travel will be guaranteed for outer space as well for us mere mortals in the future.
For what purposes would you use this torpor or hibernation? Would you use it to sleep through the financial crisis? Or would you follow the bear example, and sleep all through winter? However don’t think you will be losing weight if that was the objective. Do you remember the story about super overweight Elvis? He thought it would be great to go in a drug induced coma for two weeks, in order to shed some weight. His body didn’t agree with that, because he was fed a liquid diet which contained calories and of lack of exercise, he actually gained weight. However if you would like to use the torpor to circumvent the nastiness that is flying all around, then I would be all for it. Because aren’t you glad you will be going on holiday soon, but are you dreading the long lines, the body scan, the luggage restrictions etc. at the airport? I am. I would love to be able to have a nice sleep, and wake up at my destination ready to start the holiday and not feeling like I need to be revived first. NASA and Spaceworks; we can’t wait to see what you have in store for us. NASA funds this hibernation project, easy travel guaranteed and hopefully they won’t keep it for themselves.
By Georgina Pijttersen