I'm trying to design a colony spaceship.
My main character, a soldier, awakes prematurely from suspended animation (SA) to find that the colony ship she is on, headed for Tau Ceti e, is in a mutiny. The journey was supposed to last about 14 years, but she's awoken halfway through the journey. There are 26,000 people total on the ship, of which there are about 400 trained soldiers, and 5,000 children.
Originally, I had almost everyone in suspended animation before the mutiny. The mutineers had pre-planned coming out of SA early and "taking over" the ship. However, as I thought about it, this wouldn't make sense with some plot points that I'd like to remain in place:
- The mutiny must take place between years 4 and 10 of the journey. This period constitutes a communication "dead zone". Any sooner or any later, and the ship can send a distress signal to either Earth or the existing colonies on Tau Ceti e, which can then remotely control the ship and suppress the mutiny.
- The destination remains Tau Ceti e.
- The main character must be in SA, because of reasons, and come out of it when the mutiny starts (okay, I suppose it's not necessary that she be in SA, but it's important to note that SA exists in this world).
- SA works by replacing the person's blood with a saline solution, and essentially freezing the body until it's time to come out of it, at which point the blood is returned, the body warmed up, and the heart shocked into beating again. Basically, cryonics. See this answer to a related question.
- Normal brain function is retained by way of science
- Some physical/mental recovery after SA is necessary, usually a week.
- The space requirements per person in SA is 275 cu. ft.
- Once out of SA, you can only go back in by the help of 2 highly trained technicians.
- Presumably, the mutineers would still want most people to survive the rest of journey. Perhaps not the soldiers, though.
If everyone were in suspended animation, then the mutineers couldn't survive the rest of the journey after their planned mutiny. There wouldn't be enough food, water, life support, etc., to sustain them. Even if it was just one person coming out for the mutiny, there is probably no way that this person could live for the rest of the trip. Perhaps one or two mutineers could survive, assuming there would already be a small group of technicians awake. But there are problems with this too, not the least of which is that this doesn't make for an interesting story.
So I'm designing a ship where everyone is awake and alive for the 14 year trip. All necessary considerations would be in place: artificial gravity, food sources, water recycling, life support, recreation, education, social structures, etc.
I'm having trouble reconciling the fact that suspended animation exists in this context, but they aren't putting everyone in it for the duration of the journey. It seems like it would be way too expensive, and just a lot of trouble, to design and operate a ship where everyone is conscious; after all, they could just basically kill everyone and revive them later.
What are the costs, maybe in terms of energy, of having everyone awake and alive, vs the costs of putting everyone in suspended animation? In the case that it's much cheaper and easier to use SA (which is what I'm expecting), why would they not use suspended animation for the journey?
One advantage that I thought of for everyone being awake...the ship could be designed to gradually acclimate the colonists to the environmental conditions of their new home. This couldn't happen if everyone were in SA. I don't know the details of that environment yet, except that acceleration due to gravity would be about $1.4\ g$. Atmospheric pressure would be higher, but I'm not sure yet by how much. I'm also not sure how much benefit this would provide; I may ask another question about acclimating to a different gravity/pressure.