sleeper ship

SS Botany Bay

SS Botany Bay.

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


The most common role of sleeper ships in fiction is for interstellar travel, usually at speeds much lower than that of light. Suspended animation is also useful in reducing consumption of life support resources by crewmembers who aren't needed during the trip, and for this reason sleeper ships sometimes also make an appearance in the context of purely interplanetary travel. In 2001: A Space Odyssey, for example, a ship travels to Jupiter (Saturn, in the book) with most of its crew in suspended animation and only a handful remaining awake to operate the spacecraft. A sleeper ship named SS Botany Bay appears in the the original Star Trek series episode "Space Seed".


Compare with generation ship.