A sleeper ship is a hypothetical type of manned spaceship in which most or all of the crew spends the journey in some form of hibernation or suspended animation. As there is currently no known technology that allows for long-term suspended animation of humans, the term is usually only found in science fiction.

The most common role of sleeper ships in fiction is for interstellar travel, usually at slower-than-light speed. Travel times for such journeys could reach into the hundreds or thousands of years, making some form of life extension such as suspended animation necessary for the original crew to live to see their destination. Suspended animation is also required on ships which cannot be used as generation ships, for whatever reason.

Suspended animation can also be useful to reduce the consumption of life support resources by crewmembers who are not needed during the trip, and for this reason sleeper ships sometimes also make an appearance in the context of purely interplanetary travel.

Sleeper ships in specific works of fictionEdit

Star Wars Edit

A sleeper ship was a sublight interstellar vessel whose inhabitants were placed into suspended animation. Typical sublight speeds made trips between stars take centuries, well beyond a normal human lifespan. Thus, sleeper ships were needed for the colonization of other star systems before the invention of hyperspace technology.

Alsakan, Metellos, Axum, Alderaan, and even worlds as far as the Outer Rim planet of Argai were colonized by Humans from Coruscant with this technology.


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