Life Aboard a Space Ship

The many vessels that travel between the planets conduct trade and warfare between the nations of the Solar System. Most of the people that crew these ships have lived their entire lives without a planetary surface under their feet. It takes a certain kind of person to want to live without gravity for long periods, to live in a small enclosure, to deal closely with the same people day after day, and to undertake the daily repetitive tasks of life aboard ship.

As with any organization, there is a chain of command to pass information and direct the actions of those down the chain. The normal chain of command has the commanding officer at the top. The executive officer reports to the commanding officer, and is in charge of the bridge crew and the department A heads, and any miscellaneous personnel not attached to a department. On commercial vessels there are normally only two departments: Engineering and Cargo. Passenger vessels will add a third department, Hospitality, for the stewards and other crew that take care of the passengers. Engineering is responsible for the maintenance of ship, and is directed by an engineer with technicians reporting to him. Ships with larger crews will have an engineer and technicians on each crew shift. The Cargo department is responsible for the loading and unloading the vessel’s cargo and supplies. They also take part in any extravehicular activities, in which case they are technically on loan to the Engineering department. Finally, the Hospitality department has lots of different duties that keep them busy with the passengers and crew.

Life Aboard Ship
Daily life on a ship is really no different than life anywhere else in space. A person’s quarters are close to their place of work. All the normal facilities – quarters, mess hall, recreation and entertainment – are available on a ship, but are smaller compared to the same facilities found in larger artificial environments. This gives a person a certain sense of familiarity, even if the difference in scale is very noticeable. Routine is the rule on a ship; certain duties and responsibilities are repeated on a daily basis. It is extremely hard to break the monotony of routine, but most crew members will have their own methods for coping and varying their routine.

Much of the time spent onboard the vessel is spent in the company of others. The close confines of a ship environment quickly teach people how to get along with just about anyone. Anyone who cannot deal with the “flaws” of another person will likely never find work on a vessel again. This close contact also provides an intimacy that draws people to each other. Whether that relationship proceeds beyond casual friendship depends on the persons involved, but romances between the planets are not a rare thing, either. A person’s private quarters are considered inviolate; any person disturbing another’s solitude, without sufficient reason, may be firmly asked to leave immediately. Repeat offenders are likely have their employment terminated, since a captain can hardly have someone regularly antagonizing the other crew members without it affecting performance.

It is not unheard of for entire families to be part of a ship’s crew. Young families are normally only involved in situations where near-constant gravity is available so that their children are not adversely affected. Once the children have become teens, families may venture into new opportunities. Dedicated family quarters are normally only available on larger vessels, but families on smaller vessels will simply occupy smaller, adjacent quarters. Schooling for young children is mostly classroom-oriented, but as they grow, education includes increasing practical experience. The most common result is that the children follow a similar path as their parents after short period of rebellion to help establish something of their own identity.

Life Aboard a Space Ship

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