Near future, Earth is starting to die, we send out dozens of small spacecraft to investigate promising exo-planets for habitability among neighbouring star systems:
- AI isn't smart enough to do the task for us - AI can help, but we need humans there to make descisions.
- The ships are travelling in a psuedo-FTL, and will be completely out of communication until they return.
- The journeys are going to take minimum 10 years ship-time to complete.
- Not much special training is needed: The requirements for these astronauts are basically a health check, "how to survey a planet", and some emergency drills.
- Life on board the ship in transit is low workload due to automation. Hydroponics, water, oxygen, waste disposal, is all mostly automated. 1-2hrs per week of human interaction is needed tops.
- Technology is relatively good - odds of a ship breaking down are slim, however the crew breaking down is another matter.
10 years is a long time for a group of 6 people to remain in close proximity and stay productive, we need to consider:
- They need to stay loyal to Earth - if they find a garden of Eden we need them to report it back, not stay there.
- When they get there (at the 5 year mark), all 6 of them need to work together mapping and surveying the planet.
- It will take a month if all 6 of them work together in perfect harmony.
- a year if only 5 of them are working in perfect harmony.
- and 5 years if only 4 of them are working in perfect harmony.
- Any interpersonal conflict risks segmenting the team and ruining productivity. A 1vs1 conflict reduces productivity but may be survivable, but a 5vs1 conflict effectively removes that 1 person from the team.
- Any fraternising within the crew is going to be hard to avoid - the crew will have emotional, intimate, and sexual needs that are borderline impossible to healthily suppress for 10 years. (Could a human really go 10 years without cuddles?)
- Sending 6 professional astronauts with a "no fraternising" policy is probably the default choice, but leaves them emotionally and intimately starved until someone breaks that policy. The first 2 to break that policy get "rewarded" with intimacy - and could result in jealousy and all sorts of team-destroying things.
- Sending 6 straight people of the same gender also leaves them emotionally and intimately starved. There may also be a coming-out which creates the same fraternising dynamic we're trying to avoid.
- Sending a family unit (Like "Lost in Space", but teen or adult children), is an idea I'm playing with, but if husband and wife relationship breaks down messily the entire crew dynamics is lost as kids pick sides. Not to mention the teens go through puberty alone.
- Sending 6 people in a long-distance relationship with people on Earth may help ensure they return, but is also asking for affairs, which is going to destroy the crew with drama.
- Sending 3 couples may work - but odds are pretty high you're going to get at least one breakup. Possibly affairs even.
So - how should we structure the crew of departing spaceships in order to maximise the odds that they arrive as a functional unit, perform their survey, and return?