Space scientists want to put humans to sleep for up to two weeks at a time as they journey through the solar system.
NASA is planning to plough up to $500,000 dollars into a scheme to develop a hibernation chamber which will put humans to sleep for up to 14 days.
The space agency is funding the creation of a pioneering “cryosleep” system as part of its Innovative Advanced Concepts Program, which explores ambitious and forward-thinking projects.
The idea of putting astronauts into a state of suspended animation is a mainstay of sci-fi, with Ripley slumbering through a long journey in Alien and Lister snoozing his way into deep space in the comedy Red Dwarf.
Now NASA is working with an American firm called Space Works to turn fiction into reality.
“The idea of suspended animation for interstellar human spaceflight has often been posited as a promising far-term solution for long-duration spaceflight,” said Dr John Bradford, CEO of the firm.
The cryosleep system works by chilling humans and artificially inducing a state of hypothermia so astronauts can hibernate for up to two weeks.
A similar technique is already used to cool the body of someone who has suffered a cardiac arrest in a bid to avoid brain damage.