Imagine humans discover FTL travel and they send a crew of 100 people:
1 captain
2 pilots
2 copilots
40 scientists/doctors
20 soldiers
30 engineers
5 robots

What supplies would they bring with them to this planet? There are 4 things I should explain:
1: the planet there going to is similar to earth. It has a breathable atmosphere it is in the Goldilocks zone of its star and it has a magnetic field to protect from radiation.
2. The trip will take only 1 month to get there
3. Once they get there they don't turn back
4: they do not have replicators to make items out of nothing

What supplies do you recommend the crew bring with them?

P.S. If the crew is successful at creating a self-sufficient colony on the planet there will be more ships sent.

  • $\begingroup$ Quite possibly relevant: Would humans be able to derive nutrition from foodstuffs found on alien planets? $\endgroup$ – a CVn Dec 10 '17 at 19:52
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    $\begingroup$ To be honest, I'm having trouble imagining any scenario that warrants sending only 20 scientists but 40 soldiers to an extrasolar planet during the first expedition. What purpose will those soldiers serve? A total complement of 100 is probably more reasonable than a lot of other proposals, but I fail to see any scenario which 40 soldiers could handle which could not be handled by a small handful of guards (which could in principle be chosen from military ranks) and a general "do what it takes" attitude among everyone. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Dec 10 '17 at 19:58
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    $\begingroup$ Also, a single pilot and a single copilot seems awfully risky; mind you, that's not even done on the true long-haul passenger air flights, which routinely carry two sets of crew to make sure that every crew member is able to perform well throughout their duty by limiting the time period that any individual crew member (particularly the flight crew) works. And such flights remain in the vicinity of suitable diversion airports at all times; aircraft today that are allowed to be the farthest from the nearest suitable diversion airport today are required to be within 180 minutes of flying to one. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Dec 10 '17 at 19:58
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    $\begingroup$ to establish a colony, imho 40 scientists and 30 engineers is an awful lot. To establish a colony, your primary needs (since air is provided by the planet) are water, food and shelter. Only after that can you even think about doing anything sciencey. The soldiers, on the other hand, can double as workers. I would dump the majority of scientists and engineers and bring craftsmen with a very robust survival training. $\endgroup$ – Burki Dec 11 '17 at 15:00

To expand on the first answer, a large supply of seed, mining equipment, foundry equipment, and chemical processing equipment would be necessary.

For the seed, a wide variety of plant types should be chosen. A particular focus on edible and flowering varieties would be chosen, but not exclusively typical crop varieties. As it would be unknown which plants might take to the local environment, all forms of edible plants would be chosen.

Mining equipment is necessary for for extracting raw materials for all forms of modern equipment. To replace tools, you'll need steel. To replace computer equipment, gold and other more rare materials will be needed. Metal processing may not be exclusively ground based. If the system has an asteroid field, extraction of higher purity materials in huge quantities would be possible.

Chemical processing facilities are necessary for producing all forms of industrial solvents needed for advanced equipment. Most components of computer equipment require many types of chemical processes to manufacture and assemble. The ability to process sufficient fuel for surface to orbit craft, ground vehicles, air vehicles, and watercraft would be necessary as well.


I am assuming that they have not also devised some kind of matter manipulation technology. I'm also assuming that the plan is not to merely establish a colony that will almost instantly devolve into neolithic ignorance, that they'll want to continue, more or less, with modern technology & lifestyle:

They'll basically have to haul a large amount of raw materials and semi-fabricated components as well. They'll have to haul a large amount of redundant tools. They'll need to haul loads of basic hardware.

They'll need to haul many hand and simple power tools, in multiples.

They'll need to haul a staggering amount of food and water, for the journey there as well as for use until local sources can be determined safe. They will, at the very least, need also to haul water purificators. They'll need weapons to hunt, to defend themselves from predatory species, perhaps even to fend off aggressive locals.

They'll need to haul all kinds of medications, and chemicals as well.

The reason being: even though the planet you propose is "earthlike" it simply isn't Earth. They might be able to eat the local lettuce, but they'll have to have spades and watering cans and rakes and pruning shears and so forth to dig a garden. They might also want a tractor to plough the virgin soil. They'll need tools and raw materials like nails and screws to raise a barn. They can use local stone and timber for the basic structure.

They'll have to build housing, so will need carpentry and masonry tools, electrical equipment and wiring will have to be brought from Earth. If they expect to enjoy indoor plumbing, they'll have to bring toilets and sinks and pipes from home as well. And machines to dig pipe trenches. And build waste management systems.

Basically, the answer boils down to: look around your town and identify all the shops and warehouses there, from hardware to drygoods to electronics 7 appliances. Everything you and your neighbours will ever need to build, maintain, expand and replace any worn or broken part anywhere in your community will have to be brought from Earth by these colonists.

Future shipments from Earth may or may not be forthcoming. Budget cuts, wars, natural disasters, ships lost in space, all those things are real possibilities and would hurt your colonists. Communications may never reach home and people back on Earth will simply assume the colonists all perished. A second mission will undoubtedly be delayed or maybe cancelled.

In the meantime, your colonists are going to want to live a relatively modern and sanitary lifestyle until regular communications & shipping becomes a thing.

  • $\begingroup$ Nice answer! Minor: Would not a 3D printer with a hefty set of designs add flexibility? Also a food producing method may reduce the need for ready-made food. $\endgroup$ – Bookeater Dec 10 '17 at 20:38
  • $\begingroup$ @Bookeater Space Exploration has Do 3D printers in space stations mean a significant cost reduction? which looks relevant. Remember that for contemporary space travel, mass translates very directly (and exponentially) to cost. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Dec 10 '17 at 20:54
  • $\begingroup$ @Michael Kjörling Cool link! My original inspiration: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Severin (the Brendan voyage) it turned out that everything you make yourself you can repair; what you bring ready-made will perish when it breaks... self-sufficiency rules! $\endgroup$ – Bookeater Dec 10 '17 at 21:00
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    $\begingroup$ Yeah, a 3D printer could certainly be a great addition to the armamentarium of the colonists! With the same caveats: you'd need to bring multiple units and loads of spare parts. Really, you don't want to waste back-up printer time and effort on making a spare part or component that can simply be placed in the ship's stores. Also, a very large amount of raw material will need to be brought along. I'd suggest using the printers exceedingly sparingly: once the magic powder runs out, there's nothing left for the printers to do but sit and gather dust. $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Dec 11 '17 at 2:20

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