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  1. Lately I've been fascinated with space arks -- big ships intended to take colonists to another world. Preliminary research indicates you'd need 10,000 to 40,000 people to establish your new home. The numbers avoid genetic drift and provide a cushion against deaths caused by disease, accident, or violence. All these hardy pioneers need not travel on a single giant vessel; the mission might be safer if you have five ships each carrying 2,000 people than one carrying all 10,000. There are two basic approaches to slower-than-light transport. Sleeper ships (the "Ark in Space" from Doctor Who, the Botany Bay from Star Trek) carry colonists in some sort of suspended animation -- drug-induced hibernation, freezing, etc. The ship's computer awakes part of the crew periodically to check and maintain the vessel and to enable passengers in heal cellular damage accrued during hibernation (otherwise they have a limited shelf life and arrive sick and crippled). The second approach is a generation ship (the Warden from Metamorphosis Alpha, Earthship Ark from The Starlost) in which passengers are expected to reproduce and pass on their knowledge and the mission guidelines to each succeeding generation of inhabitants. Genetic diversity could be boosted by carrying a supply of frozen human eggs and sperm, enabling medics to periodically artificially inseminate colonists to add variety to the population. Oddly, my research indicates that a society advanced enough to build a successful generation ship would also have the technology to construct one with faster-than-light drives. A sleeper ship avoids all the societal problems of staying on mission with a generation ship. However, the technical challenges of both types of transport are great. Even if you get up to speed then coast your way to your distant destination, you'd still need an outrageous amount of fuel to maintain even the minimal amount of life support required by a sleeper ship over thousands of years. And no matter how advanced your engineering and well-crafted your construction, stuff is eventually going to wear out over that long a period. So, have any of you included space arks in your campaigns? If so, how did you handle these questions? Or did you just ignore the complications (as most movies and TV shows do) for the sake of having your stalwart adventurers encounter a weird situation?
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