Chris Frederick

Somewhere in the Arabian Sea

I just finished listening to this old (2002) episode of This American Life, and I couldn't help but imagine that the exact same story could just as easily take place on a starship in the future. I actually found it fascinating to hear about the day-to-day life of the majority of the crew on the ship, who never engage in any combat missions. Here's the summary (emphasis mine):

Life aboard the USS John C. Stennis, an aircraft carrier in the Arabian Sea that's supporting bombing missions over Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. Only a few dozen people on board actually fly F-18s and F-14s. It takes the rest of the crew—over 5,000 people—to keep them in the air.

Because I'm weird, this radio show also reminded me of a question and answer posted on about the ships used by the Empire in the Star Wars universe. I particularly liked the following paragraph in the answer.

And the more you scale up, the greater the logistical resource needs stack up, especially if the vessel is going to be on multi-year missions across the galaxy. For psychological and social reasons, you'd need to have even more crew comforts and civic infrastructure, like libraries, entertainment centers, living areas, schools, gyms, hydroponic farms, etc. You'd also have more need for support personnel from electricians and mechanics to nuclear engineers and scientists to security officers, forklift operators and janitors. Conveniently, a large crew and ship will also serve to reduce the psychological stresses of feeling isolated and trapped during extended space voyages.

So whenever we finally get around to building spaceships to explore the stars, they may end up operating a lot like our aircraft carriers do now. Anyway, it's an interesting thought.