How it does so was described by Frank Todhunter in the following way:
- "The stasis room creates a static field of time. See, just as X-rays can't pass through lead, time cannot penetrate a stasis field. So, although you exist, you no longer exist in time, and for you time itself does not exist. You see, although you're still a mass, you are no longer an event in space-time, you are a non-event mass with a quantum probability of zero."
Dave Lister was sealed in stasis for smuggling an unquarantined animal (the cat Frankenstein) aboard Red Dwarf. He refused to hand over the cat and was ordered to spend 18 months in stasis and have his wages suspended. Due to the radiation leak which wiped out the crew, Holly decided to keep Lister sealed safely in stasis until the radiation reached a safe background level - which happened three million years later. (RD: The End)
The origins and uses of stasis are elaborated in the first Red Dwarf novel. It was originally devised for interstellar travel for astros in search of extraterrestrial life, based on work done by Albert Einstein. After these expeditions failed to find anything, not even a moderately intelligent plant, they returned home and human interest in space exploration ended. Due to the stasis field many astros were now younger than their decedents, which made billions for the greeting cards industry.
Ever since then the stasis field has been used as a form of punishment, for Space Corps members who retaliated or committed crimes (the least serious crime punishable by Stasis was breaking quarantine regulations). Rimmer deliberately placed himself into stasis during his free time - which is partly why he didn't have a social life. He wished to stay as young as possible and, after years of doing so, he could proudly say that he was legally 31 but really had the body of a 30 year old. In fact, if Rimmer hadn't wasted time in one of his sudden "superstition attacks", he would have been recreating in a stasis pod during the accident and would not have died. (Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers)
If a stasis field escaped the confines of the booth, then the field would preserve whatever it encountered. This was known as a Stasis Leak. Such a leak occured aboard Red Dwarf, allowing Rimmer, Lister and The Cat to travel back in time. (RD: Stasis Leak)