It is the near future. After a major world war and limited nuclear exchange, the nations of Earth have consolidated into a few blocs. The threat of further war and the cumulative damage to the planet spur enormous private investment in colonization of space. Floating colonies surround Earth and near-Earth orbits of Sol. The terraforming of Mars has begun. A great demand for resources off-Earth has spread asteroid mining operations throughout the solar system.

As spacers fill up the inner solar system, a consortium of governments and business interests forms a company for the exploration and exploitation of Saturn: Saturn Development Corporation (SDC).

SDC's business model is to get to to Saturn first and establish a mining operation to lay first claim to the entire Saturn system. SDC is launching 6 giant semi-autonomous mining drone-ships for pulverizing small moonlets, 6 MPD drive powered intra-system tugs, and 2 solar mirror smelting arrays that will all operate within the Saturn system. Freighters with atomic torch drives will take one to two years, depending on planetary alignment, to make the transit to Saturn and back with supplies.


The goal is to get to Saturn fast, so there is no time to test the giant semi-autonomous machinery being deployed. In order to effect local repairs or alterations, a human element must be deployed to the Saturn system. Software can be upgraded and deployed remotely, from Earth. But given the travel times, hardware repairs will have to be done locally, and spare parts should be available.

Finally, surveys of the system are incomplete, or else done by competing factions and so the data is no available. Some local reconnaissance must be done to select mining targets for the semi-autonomous equipment.

What personnel skills are required to be stationed locally in the Saturn system to make this mining enterprise successful?

This question is looking for a minimum number of people with each required skillset that will compose the crew for Saturn station.


  • Electronics repair personnel for repairing damaged electronics
  • Personnel for operating 3-d printers for making spare parts
  • Geologists for exploring the mine-able bodies of the Saturn system


  • Crew rotation times will be in the 3-5 year range.
  • The people going will all be astronaut/cosmonaut types. The question is directed at which ancillary skills these people should have to be included.
  • There have been no experiments with growing food at this distance from the sun. Assume that all food has to be brought from home, so the fewer people you can man the station with the better.
  • Security is important. Competing spacer factions would love to sabotage or steal the equipment we have. The best protection SDC has is distance, but some other security measures should be considered.
  • Jupiter's radiation has so far prevented permanent manned establishments there. This will be the first permanent inhabited station outside the asteroid belt. Other factions may wish to put people on board for research purposes. Security may be needed for these people as well, just in case.

closed as too broad by Mołot, elemtilas, Gryphon, Ryan_L, Mark Olson Sep 7 '18 at 17:49

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Take a look at the mental and physical training of astronauts, I'm sure you'll find a lot of insight as to what is required of those living and working in space. $\endgroup$ – B.fox Sep 7 '18 at 13:06
  • $\begingroup$ It would probably be significantly less expensive (in terms of fuel and complexity) to "mine" Saturn's rings rather than to land on all the moons. Does the legality of making your "claim" require landing on the moons? $\endgroup$ – Joe Sep 7 '18 at 13:14
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Well, any decent corporation will start with the fundamental roles which need to be filled in. Managers, personal assistants, human resources ladies, purchasing and acquisition specialists, financial managers, accountants, project managers, operations managers, commercial project managers, employee engagement specialists, real estate and workplace services specialists, lawyers and their paralegal assistants, security guards, receptionists, call-center operators . . . Then, if there is still room on the rocket and the budget allows it, some IT people, and, possibly, one or two engineers. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Sep 7 '18 at 13:14
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Joe The goal is human presence. $\endgroup$ – kingledion Sep 7 '18 at 13:39
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ A very broad question! The answer is similarly broad: you will need all skills. Even the ones you might think are unimportant to the actual business of mining. People are people and you're going to need some with social, culinary, spiritual, entertainment, empathetic & interpersonal skills as well as their engineering and management skills. Can the question be pared down at all? $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Sep 7 '18 at 14:09