Ship Focus: Migrant
Type: Settlement/Deep space surveyor vessel.
Original manufacturer: Starmoth Initiative.
Current pattern status: Public domain under Starmoth Initiative designs.
Propulsion: Fusion drive.
Armament: None, may carry a military laser grid.
FTL capable: Yes.
Length: 800 meters.
Payload: Up to 50,000 tons.
Crew: Up to 2,000.
Also known as the Immigrant, the Great Wanderer.
Many would liken the vast Migrant vessels to arks for the interstellar age, but the comparison is ill-advised. Humankind isn’t settling new worlds because it has to, but because it can. Colonization isn’t a last-ditch attempt at giving a new home to a dying race, as was often prophesied by writers of old. It is a long, careful and complex project aiming at attuning a small human population to a new planet all the while preserving its ecological integrity. In this context, Migrant vessels play a key role, not so much as immigration ships but as surveyors and initial outposts.
Migrant ships are among the largest FTL-capable vessels in existence, starting at 800 meters. Their crews are surprisingly low for their size, with passengers, colonists and navigators accounting for one to two thousand people on most Migrant vessels. These crews aren’t meant to populate a colony, they are not even the first settlement wave. They are the surveyors and pioneers tasked with assessing the ecological viability of a habitable world and setting up the initial infrastructure. Migrant vessels are typically populated by a mixture of scientists, engineers and artists, with an emphasis on geography and biology-adjacent disciplines aboard. In the initial settlement attempts, Migrant vessels often carried a “cold storage” compartment of colonists plunged in deep cicada sleep. This practice has fallen out of favor however and modern Migrant ships are not equipped to support hibernating crews, unless the navigators expect to be stranded for an extended period of time.
The key element of a Migrant ship’s design is redundancy. The size of these vessels is partially justified by the fact that every single system aboard a Migrant ship is doubled or even tripled by auxiliary modules. They are the only human ships to routinely carry two geometry drives and twice as many fusion reactors as necessary, and the only non-military vessels to be entirely coated in ablative armour. The central habitable section of a Migrant ship is almost impervious to radiation and contains enough supplies to last a lifetime. The vessel is large enough to provide artificial gravity in its crew quarters through rotation-induced centrifugal forces, though the habitats can be folded to trade gravity for compactness. It is not an exaggeration to say that Migrant ships are the single most resilient human vessels in existence. There have been many occurrences of Migrant ships being damaged in their deep space ventures, but not a single one has ever been lost. This desire for self-sustainability extends to the political organisation of Migrant vessels, which are always independent communes made of passenger-citizens.
A Migrant vessel is destined to carry out three distinct roles during its operational lifetime. The first one is to act as a deep space traveller, transporting its crew, biosphere and high-tech infrastructure across thousands of lightyears, very often through uncharted space. The second one is to act as the target planet’s initial orbital station, serving as a scientific outpost, remote sensing platform and small craft harbor. Then, after a few years, if the planet is deemed suitable for long-term settlement, the habitat section of the Migrant vessel is separated from the engine modules, disassembled in space and de-orbited. The various modules will then be used as is for the first planetary settlement, while ship-specific systems will provide much-needed resources to the initial manufacturing efforts. The rest of the Migrant vessel can then either remain in orbit as a rudimentary space port or travel back home on its own and pick up another habitat section.
Due to their mission profile, Migrant vessels don’t usually take part in more than one settlement attempt, though there are a few notable exceptions. One of them is third generation Migrant Gaia Theory which successively took part in the initial settlement of Smyrnia, Concorde, Masan and Azur. In old colonies, the initial Migrant vessel has often been turned into a monument; such is the case of Look At What We Have Here whose orbital section now rests in Elora’s Remembrance Dome.
It is to be noted that Migrant vessels share more than a passing resemblance with heavy warship designs, and especially USRE Firebases.
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