What types of crew members should be selected to ensure the best possible chance of success on the journey?

A government of the near future is planning to covertly send a crew to fly via spaceship to a world that takes 100 years to reach because their world is on the brink of destruction. They represent the most powerful and wealthy nation left on Earth, and their motivation is benevolent - they want a group of people to survive on a spacecraft for 100 years and repopulate the earth-like planet. They don't want to control these people because it is a virtual certainty earth will soon be destroyed, so they won't be there to control it. They are making decisions about the journey itself, not what supplies they need once they land, nor taking into consideration their own national preferences. They want the best possible journey because its failure would bring about human extinction.


  1. they have the ability to send 1000 people into outer space with supplies necessary for their survival on the journey and the destination planet
  2. no shortage of resources or technology we currently know about
  3. they can select the crew from an unlimited variety of human resources
  4. their motivation is benevolent
  5. a method to put everyone in a hyper-sleep has not been tested and is ruled out as a possible control mechanism
  6. The destination is exactly like earth


In my original post, my question was too broad. However, I think it will require a new question to right the wrong, since this has been answered already. I selected a correct answer and changed the question to better fit the answers.

The question more suited to the answers is: What types of crew members should be selected to ensure the best possible chance of success on the journey?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ This is insanely broad and any recognized philosophy of government could be an answer. $\endgroup$
    – amflare
    Apr 25, 2017 at 17:49
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ No... Not really. Mostly because you have two questions here (which you should fix btw). You ask "How should we pick the people" and "How should they set up their system of government". The only metric of success is survival (which presumably means at least 1000 people make it to the end. So among the X number of ways to pick, the Y number of governmental systems, and the Z number of events that could happen, you are asking us to tell you which combination best ensure survival. Yes I stand by my earlier assessment. My recommendation is to narrow it down somehow. Otherwise (cont below) $\endgroup$
    – amflare
    Apr 25, 2017 at 18:03
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ (cont) you'll get answers telling you what variables you need to keep in mind to pick the various systems. $\endgroup$
    – amflare
    Apr 25, 2017 at 18:03
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ By weird coincidence the crew would be made up entirely of the richest people on earth, politicians and their families. $\endgroup$
    – Kilisi
    Apr 25, 2017 at 18:06
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ It seem this train of thought has potential...but I recommend splitting it. First I think you should decide on a system of government yourself (so many are equally valid), then ask a question about the viability of the details you've decided on. A second question can then be, given how this will work, how should the people be picked. I'm going to vote for your question to be "closed for refurbishment" just so it give you a chance to do a bit of editting. All the best! $\endgroup$ Apr 25, 2017 at 18:21

4 Answers 4


Space travel is a tricky thing. Even with the most hospitable traveling environment and a near-perfect journey, space is just not great for humans to be in it. 100 years is a long time for a small society to function. In order to give that its best chances, an excellent crew and passengers will be an absolute necessity.

I offer that selection should include the following, and in this order:

1. Psychiatric stability

Space is unbelievably huge and empty. Also, it isn't Earth. There is a level of terrestrial attachment that almost every human has. Leaving that behind to enter the empty dark is a scary thing. Thus, the crew and passengers must possess a stable psychiatric profile. This should even be reviewed one or two generations back, as predispositions for mental instability can be seen in family. At the end of the day, no matter how good a candidate is, if he can't handle the concept and nature of space travel, he'll be more of a danger than an asset.

2. Physical Stability

Space Travel is physically difficult. Getting into orbit alone requires exposure to at least a couple G's of force for a short period, potentially more. Once in space, dealing with the potential affects of low-g or null-g exposure require constant training and exercise. If the candidate's physique can't handle that for his or her lifetime, it's a no-go.

3. Appropriate space-faring Skills/knowledge

Being successful in space means having at least a couple of people that can keep everything up and running. Everything from engineering to navigations needs more than a couple people that can make everything function. This may mean more front-end training, but it is very important that there be a solid operational crew with enough bodies to put two people on each of three 8-hour shifts at minimum for every major system and operational component. This is a last hope scenario, backups and constant readiness are a must.

4. Other Appropriate skills/knowledge

If you're going to need someone to do a job once they land, you'll need at least one or two people for each of those jobs on board while they travel. Naturally, these people will have to train a couple children en route to the planet, because it is likely the first generation will die off, thus it will be important these people have access to training materials and the like. However, the sole emphasis should not be on teachers. There should a good smattering of working professionals for every job to ensure that experience speaks into the raw knowledge aspect as well. Bonus points for those jobs that can train while also fixing actual issues during travel.

5. Diversified Background/age/gender

The gene pool will need to be pretty diversified for effective procreation both en route and on arrival. It will be beneficial to have several walks of life on the ship to encourage multiple problem-solving approaches. And there should be some families, some singles, some married with kids, etc. to get the full effect of all that stuff that only these different groups can add to the experience of the entire crew. In a perfect world, you'd also wants these people to be able to spend a little time together before leaving, so quirky differences can be worked out early, or used to disqualify candidates that would behave negatively with others.

6. Strong predisposition for disseminating information

Admittedly, this last aspect is a bit of a fail-safe and sort of difficult to quantify. The candidates should be able to easily and rapidly acquire and make use of new information. This is sometimes thought of as intelligence, or IQ, or even common sense; it depends on your outlook. The crew - being relatively small when compared to the whole of the human population - will very likely need or want to learn some things that you can't pack a professional onto the vessel. For these things that will either go forgotten or considered inconsequential, it would be nice to have a video library that the crew will have access to for self-study or as supplementary to normal education during the journey and on the new planet.


I feel this is a difficult thing to answer without biasing the creative process, as the basic elements of structure will either dictate or will be dictated by narrative elements. With that in mind, some things to consider:

  • During travel, renewable food and water resources will be essential
  • Upon arrival, resources for finding/hunting/harvesting food will be essential, along with knowledge on their use
  • The society will need some way for the various people on board to make informed decisions either through representation or direct democracy. Consider a system that utilizes some sort of elected triumvirate paired with a board or other power checking organization.

I hope this is helpful in jump-starting some thought.

  • $\begingroup$ I don t know why this answer is not on top, it s very accurate and rational. $\endgroup$
    – Fred
    Apr 26, 2017 at 5:42

Everyone would work conscientiously to decide the best people to preserve humanity. They would factor in genetic diversity, mental stability, intelligence, skillset, physical attributes.

And then, by weird coincidence the crew would be made up entirely of the richest people on earth, politicians and their families.


I believe the primary factors to consider for colonist inclusion would be (not in any particular order)

A. Age - no one over age 30 goes, the primary generation of colonists must be old enough to reproduce, yet young enough to successfully raise the young to train for their duties, and plan for Gen 3,4,5 etc.

B. Overall intelligence. Stupid people need not apply. This doesn't mean that PHds are automatically preferred, but if you're able to prove the ability to think on your feet, you'll fare better than those who require supervision.

C. Excellent Health. This is a perfect opportunity to screen for every known genetic disease marker in all humanity. Think GATTACA- this is not a place for the congenitally weak, infirm or uncertain.

D. Genetic diversity. 1,000 people is a very small genepool, likely insufficient, unless a substantial supply of cryogenically stored sperm and eggs are brought along - screening rules apply as well.

E. Emotional profile. There is no perfect 'litmus test' for someone who is/is not suited for long-term, one-way trips, but our government has been compiling the basics since the last century. Some people may be physically flawless, multi-talented geniuses, but not be the kind to live out their lives in a prison surrounded by vacuum, so, they don't go.

One Hundred years is a long time in human terms ( think about what your ancestors were doing in 1917)...onboard the ship, the social structure will require other special skills in engineering, teaching, and other areas that are necessary to fulfill the mission. Each skillset will need to be transferrable, to prevent a 'drift' in mission parameters and viability. I doubt that any form of traditionally recognizable "government would be applicable, although some social hierarchy is hardwired into us, there will be leaders, and by nature there will be followers. I don't believe membership in one or the other should include or exclude anyone, but you can't have a ship with 1000 Napoleons, or 1000 human sheep. This Government should also consider not one but many such ships, the destinations and existences of other ships being unknown until after launch. This subject has been the stuff of a great many good (and not-so-good) SF stories for decades. Consider "When Worlds Collide", "Deep Impact" and "2012" just as examples. For a wonderful example , please read Frederik Pohl's "The Gold at the Starbow's End" Good luck with your creation !!


Is the government sending this ship some utopian society that only ever considers the good of the human race?

Or is it a more typical government?

The motivations may be benevolent, but humans are fickle and self-serving by nature more often than not. There are likely to be non-benevolent factors or factions choosing who to send and why.

Most likely, the government doing this will send their own leaders, right or wrong, on this trip. You'd get a good number of people from the "ruling class" and then 90% or so would be the actual scientists, engineers, and experts able to prove they would be able to complete the monumental task at the other end of that journey.

Without cryo-sleep or some such, you aren't going to have the people you send on this 100 year journey being the ones that arrive and populate the new planet. It will be their great-great-grandchildren, who will be in their 20's or so upon arrival.

So far as "what will they set up when there" - again that really is most likely answered by "what did they have before they left." You might have some sort of revolution occur over the course of the journey that has the 'ruling class' that came along be unseated and then you can look at more ideal forms of government.

  • $\begingroup$ As stated, the government is in the decision making process, benevolently contemplating "what SHOULD we do?" This question is not concerned what WILL happen unless related to a plan of prevention for things endangering the mission. $\endgroup$
    – smurtagh
    Apr 25, 2017 at 17:42

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .