Necessary Starship Jobs VS Optional Specialized Jobs

In summary, a starship is any spaceship capable of interstellar flight within about the time it takes to travel by car to a another state or country hours or days away. Basic jobs: Captain: Directs where and when a ship goes here or there. Ship safety is his responsibility. Also the crew.XO/Commander: Second to the captain. It is his job to manage the crew and ensure they do their jobs. Freeing up the Captain to oversee his vessel operations and any record keeping.Pilot: Having more than one is never a bad idea, just in case.Engineer: One might suffice on a small vessel with helpers assisting him.
  • #1
Bab5space
111
12
In scifi, the crew jobs depend on the kind of vessel flying. For the purposes of discussion, a starship is any spaceship capable of interstellar flight within about the time it takes to travel by car to a another state or country hours or days away.

The issue is that the typical starship in media scifi is usually militant and armed to the teeth.

So let's discuss the bare minimum jobs you need for ANY crewed ship first.

Basic jobs:

Captain: Directs where and when a ship goes here or there. Ship safety is his responsibility. Also the crew.

XO/Commander: Second to the captain. It is his job to manage the crew and ensure they do their jobs. Freeing up the Captain to oversee his vessel operations and any record keeping.

Pilot: Having more than one is never a bad idea, just in case.

Engineer: One might suffice on a small vessel with helpers assisting him.

That's it for jobs every ship should have available.

Specialized jobs: Not every ship needs these jobs, but some will depending on the purpose of the vessel.

Doctors/medical staff: Always nice to have but not always necessary. Also pricey to employ if it's coming out of the Captain's paycheck if the ship is privately owned. Large vessels owned by companies and government will have medical staff as a necessary precaution.

Soldiers: Mainly for troop carriers.

Unloaders/loaders: This job is almost totally unnecessary assuming you have a place to deliver cargo with workers to load/unload for you like many truck drivers already have. One way a ship still might have these guys is if the place they will deliver cargo won't have workers for unloading.

Navigators: Nice to have a guy who can navigate with a computer map or without one, but inertial guidance and computer maps work great too... and you you don't have to pay either on the payroll.

That's all I can think of. Can you think of any more jobs that are either absolutely necessary or only optional per ship purpose?
 
Physics news on Phys.org
  • #2
Bab5space said:
Basic jobs:

Captain: Directs where and when a ship goes here or there. Ship safety is his responsibility. Also the crew.

XO/Commander: Second to the captain. It is his job to manage the crew and ensure they do their jobs. Freeing up the Captain to oversee his vessel operations and any record keeping.

Pilot: Having more than one is never a bad idea, just in case.

Engineer: One might suffice on a small vessel with helpers assisting him.
To follow your analogy of an interstate road trip, all of those roles can be filled by a single person - the pilot. A captain and XO is only necessary for a larger vessel requiring several people to maintain it. Much like a long hauling truck, only one person is really necessary (if even that if you can get an automated ship computer to fly the ship for you - the equivalent in the road trip analogy would be self-driving cars).
 
  • #3
Orodruin is right, and you should have realized this yourself. What you posted isn't even internally consistent:

Bab5space said:
bare minimum jobs
Bab5space said:
just in case

One high-quality thread has more value than a pile of low-quality threads.
 
  • #4
Just don't forget the telephone sanitizers.

Ps.: agree with the others before - the more topic you open the harder it is to take them seriously.
 
  • Like
Likes DaveC426913
  • #5
Bab5space said:
Engineer: One might suffice on a small vessel with helpers assisting him.

I always wonder about this on small craft. It's like needing a mechanic in the car...or perhaps on a boat is a better analogy...because what goes wrong with newer tech that they could actually fix in situ? Or keep spare parts for? Or even print parts for? Major damage is probably a death sentence in space, irrespective of who is onboard.

Of course, that does not stop authors playing the trope. Jay Allan wrung out every last drop - and them some - in his Blood on the Stars series to the point of "Oh no, not again" when the most amazing engineer ever fixes stuff blown to smithereens in the nick of time for the warship to fight back or escape, but it's not credible beyond simple repairs.

Anyway, what direction is your writing taking to think about this?
 
  • #6
Vanadium 50 said:
One high-quality thread has more value than a pile of low-quality threads.

Nicely noted, but... :headbang:
 
  • #7
Tghu Verd said:
It's like needing a mechanic in the car...or perhaps on a boat is a better analogy...because what goes wrong with newer tech that they could actually fix in situ? Or keep spare parts for? Or even print parts for? Major damage is probably a death sentence in space, irrespective of who is onboard.
The difference is generally that - in a car or on a boat, if the medium immediately outside the vehicle's walls ends up inside the vehicle's walls, even briefly - you don't end up very dead, very fast.

And car or a boat, if you have to get out, say, due to a fire, you don't end up very dead, very fast.

Let me sum: on a car or on a boat, the medium around you is not trying to actively kill you if you make the slightest mistake, or if your craft merely bricks.
 
  • Like
Likes chasrob
  • #8
DaveC426913 said:
The difference is generally that - in a car or on a boat, if the medium immediately outside the vehicle's walls ends up inside the vehicle's walls, even briefly - you don't end up very dead, very fast.

Yep, which is great as a plot device.

But I don't think the ISS has dedicated engineers as crew (though I'd expect astronauts are well trained in what they can do in event of many potential failures).

I guess, until we have operational spacecraft routinely flying between celestial bodies it's all hypothetical. My opinion is that operators will want to minimize labor costs via maximum automation / remote control, and knowing that the environment is so harsh, and that only minor failure can be fixed in flight, they'll cost in the risk, ensure passengers / crew sign indemnifications up to the wazoo, and just get on with the perilous job of transporting stuff from A to B.
 
  • #9
The bare minimum is something like HAL. Total automation and AI runs it all. Breakdowns, repairs and services handled by a crew of robots. All humans on board would be considered as “Captain Dunsel.”
 
  • #10
chemisttree said:
The bare minimum is something like HAL.
I wouldn't call that a minimum; I would call that a maximum. A Holy Grail. :wink:

You're basically suggesting that it's "simpler" to construct a computer so sophisticated that it can do all the jobs of - and do all the thinking of - an entire crew - rendering them obsolete.

It's kind of like saying the "bare minimum" for interplanetary propulsion systems is to have one single all-purpose "intergalactic teleport drive", that can "simply" go from your household driveway to Andromeda and back.
 
  • #11
DaveC426913 said:
Let me sum: on a car or on a boat, the medium around you is not trying to actively kill you if you make the slightest mistake, or if your craft merely bricks.

I've been mulling this over and your sum is correct...but not for the situation on a passenger jet in flight, and we don't carry engineers on them, so as always, circumstances matter.

And I totally get the inimical nature of space travel, but it is probably going to be cheaper, on a per unit basis, to build as basic a craft as you can get away with to launch, coast, and land, and not stuff it full of expensive engineers and whatever they need to repair stuff.

Apart from the dreams of billionaires, economics will drive development of space travel, and unless in situ repairs will actually fix common problems, the risk / reward curve is going to drift to cheap and cheerful over massively redundant and generally repairable.

Need to repair anything external, that requires an airlock (expensive, prone to failure, needs somewhere to pump and store the air mix in it when you open it, unnecessary 99.9% of the time), space suits, someone trained in using a spacesuit, someone trained in repairing the part, tools and parts for the external repairs... The list goes on.

Need to repair something internal, that requires access (complicates design, adds weight, reduces usable space) someone trained in repairing the part, tools and parts for the internal repairs... The list goes on.

I can see the need for a warship, as they expect to be damaged - though most space dramas of this kind assume a huge degree of robustness and gloss over how hard repairs would likely be - but for passenger and even freighters, they are surely going to be as basic as possible because that's likely good enough to get the job done.
 
  • Like
Likes DaveC426913
  • #12
Tghu Verd said:
but not for the situation on a passenger jet in flight, and we don't carry engineers on them, so as always, circumstances matter.
Maybe the history of Flight Engineers can be a good reference
 
  • #13
Rive said:
Maybe the history of Flight Engineers can be a good reference

It can be, good pick up :smile:

And it highlights that like any form of transport, space travel is likely to evolve from it's bespoke beginnings to commoditization and so will need different skills at different points in the travel experience. I fervently hope we get to that point (as a species, it's probably too late for me as an individual) but the way things are going, I'm not investing in asteroid miners, interstellar liners, or even space elevator climbers!
 
  • #14
DaveC426913 said:
You're basically suggesting that it's "simpler" to construct a computer so sophisticated that it can do all the jobs of - and do all the thinking of - an entire crew - rendering them obsolete.

That's a lot more plausible than superluminal interstellar travel with a human crew of 400.

That level of automation and AI is probably only a matter of time.
 
  • #15
Bab5space said:
In scifi, the crew jobs depend on the kind of vessel flying. For the purposes of discussion, a starship is any spaceship capable of interstellar flight within about the time it takes to travel by car to a another state or country hours or days away.
That makes a lot of difference.
How many shifts do you need?
Also: in a car, the environment outside IS actively trying to kill you. Let go of the steering wheel for a few seconds, and the car will crash into a ditch or oncoming car. Which means that a car driver must stop and pull of the road for a toilet break, or to hand over the driver seat.
Whereas a manned starship in empty interstellar space, unlikely to meet any meteor or any other ship, might safely be left unmanned for hours while the only crew member, or the whole crew at the same time, are asleep.
 
  • #16
PeroK said:
That's a lot more plausible than superluminal interstellar travel with a human crew of 400.

That level of automation and AI is probably only a matter of time.
Certainly less time than it would take to develop interstellar travel within a matter of days to a few weeks!
 
  • #17
DaveC426913 said:
You're basically suggesting that it's "simpler" to construct a computer so sophisticated that it can do all the jobs of - and do all the thinking of - an entire crew - rendering them obsolete.
Yes, precisely that.

The premise was that interstellar travel would take a few days to a few weeks. Our galaxy is 100,000 light years across. To go from the center to its edge would take light some 50,000 years. To do that within a few weeks would be a speed ~ 500,000 times the speed of light.
Warp 80!
Yeah, I think AI is going to happen before that.
 
  • #18
chemisttree said:
Yes, precisely that.

The premise was that interstellar travel would take a few days to a few weeks. Our galaxy is 100,000 light years across. To go from the center to its edge would take light some 50,000 years. To do that within a few weeks would be a speed ~ 500,000 times the speed of light.
Warp 80!
Yeah, I think AI is going to happen before that.
In scifi the answer can depend on many factors besides tech advances.

For example the Goauld of Stargate are advanced but weak in security measures because they are living cliche of failing the evil overlord list repeatedly. Cameras deployed in starship hallways would be nice for example.

Also it depends on how much unobtantanium a race relies on, which can give them unnatural advantages for FTL/warp without developing good AI.
 
  • #19
chemisttree said:
Yes, precisely that.

The premise was that interstellar travel would take a few days to a few weeks. Our galaxy is 100,000 light years across. To go from the center to its edge would take light some 50,000 years. To do that within a few weeks would be a speed ~ 500,000 times the speed of light.
Warp 80!
Yeah, I think AI is going to happen before that.
Ah. OK. Granted.

I read the OP as interplanetary, not interstellar. :sorry: Bit of a jump in tech level there.
 
  • Like
Likes chemisttree
  • #20
Bab5space said:
In scifi the answer can depend on many factors besides tech advances.

For example the Goauld of Stargate are advanced but weak in security measures because they are living cliche of failing the evil overlord list repeatedly. Cameras deployed in starship hallways would be nice for example.
Yes, of course. Noteworthy is that they can be overcome by a race of replicators. The embodiment of AI.
A replicator-like crew with alternate programming would be far superior as starship operators.
 
  • #21
So, what's the conclusion of all this? And how does it factor into @Bab5space's story? It seems that the 'crew' of any interstellar craft is unlikely to need to be human as the ship will be managed by an AI. It seems a likely outcome, as "Warp 80" implies serious shortcuts through 4D space and that tech is surely millennia down the track, even for a sci-fi universe.
 

Related to Necessary Starship Jobs VS Optional Specialized Jobs

What are necessary starship jobs?

Necessary starship jobs are essential roles that are required for the basic functioning and operation of a starship. These jobs are critical for the safety and success of the mission.

What are optional specialized jobs?

Optional specialized jobs are roles that are not essential for the basic functioning of a starship, but provide specialized skills and expertise that can enhance the mission in specific areas. These jobs are not required, but can be beneficial for the success of the mission.

What are some examples of necessary starship jobs?

Examples of necessary starship jobs include pilots, engineers, navigators, medical officers, and security personnel. These roles are vital for the operation and safety of the starship and its crew.

What are some examples of optional specialized jobs?

Examples of optional specialized jobs include scientists, linguists, diplomats, chefs, and counselors. These roles may not be essential for the basic functioning of the starship, but can provide valuable skills and support for specific tasks or situations.

Why are both necessary starship jobs and optional specialized jobs important?

Both necessary starship jobs and optional specialized jobs are important for the overall success of a mission. Necessary jobs ensure that the basic functions of the starship are carried out effectively, while specialized jobs bring unique skills and perspectives that can enhance the mission and its outcomes.

Similar threads

Writing: Input Wanted Number of Androids on Spaceships
  • Sci-Fi Writing and World Building
Replies
21
Views
968
  • STEM Career Guidance
Replies
21
Views
1K
  • Introductory Physics Homework Help
Replies
3
Views
2K
Replies
2
Views
1K
  • STEM Career Guidance
Replies
5
Views
2K
Replies
8
Views
3K
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
2
Views
2K
  • STEM Career Guidance
Replies
5
Views
2K
  • Sci-Fi Writing and World Building
Replies
2
Views
2K
  • General Discussion
Replies
2
Views
1K
Back
Top