A Generation Ship is a large starship with a self-sustaining environment that travels interstellar distances at sub-light speeds. These vessels were conceived before the advent of faster-than-light travel and cryogenic stasis, and were designed to support hundreds or thousands of people for centuries. Successive generations of colonists would be born and raised in the confines of a Generation Ship until it finally arrived at its destination world, which the latest generation would then colonise. By 34th century standards, Generation Ships are classified as a type of Megaship.
The first Generation Ship was launched from Sol in 2097, as early space colonization efforts had finally begun to make headway on the Moon and Mars after the setbacks caused by World War III. It was followed by approximately 70,000 other vessels over the next several decades. Most of these ambitious expeditions were funded by large corporations, and the penalties for interfering with them were severe, given the enormous cost of mobilizing them. The deployment of Generation Ships was not well regulated, however, resulting in a number of issues. Some vessels launched ill-prepared for the arduous journey that awaited them, and many of the corporations that funded the vessels were dissolved or assimilated by other organisations over the years, making it difficult to keep track of their positions and ownership.
Generation Ships were rendered obsolete with the invention of hyperdrive technology by Li Qin Jao in the mid-22nd century, which ushered in a golden age of interstellar exploration and colonisation between 2200 and 2700, and they have not been constructed since. While the vast majority of Generation Ships reached their destinations without incident and established successful colonies, a fraction counted among "the Missing" were lost in transit and are now sought by explorers and treasure hunters.
"The Missing" is an encompassing term for everyone who has disappeared without trace in deep space. This includes colonists on the ancient Generation Ships, lost colonies, vanished scientific expeditions, and a host of others. Some of these managed to return with tales of their adventures. Some were lost in deep space, the dead hulk of their ship carrying on in an almost endless trajectory ever deeper into space. Others managed to land and survived for many decades before being overtaken by some local disaster. Some may still be alive, just restricted to low power light speed communications, or no comms at all, as their equipment has failed over the centuries in between.
Searching for Generation Ships
Generation Ships can be found by first locating a Listening Post in a system. These Listening Posts collect deep space transmissions, and a number of them have received transmissions that originated from Generation Ships. If a system has any Listening Posts, they will be visible in the navigation panel immediately upon arrival in that system. Scanning the Listening Post will usually provide a fragmentary transmission with clues to the location of the Generation Ship. Listening Posts can be found in systems up to 90 light years away from Sol, but the range may possibly be larger: "... the conclusion that many of the ships should be reaching their destinations around about now if you assume they were targeted at stars within 100 lightyears (which seems plausible for 21st-24th century technology). The maximum distance they could realistically travel would be around 1,000 lightyears (probably much less)."
Generation Ships can also be found without Listening Posts by using the Full Spectrum System Scanner to identify signal sources in a system. The FSS will immediately identify a Generation Ship no matter how far away it is from the system's main star, circumventing the need to follow specific directional clues, but there are tens of thousands of systems to search. It is suggested that Listening Posts should be used to identify systems that contain Generation Ships, and then the FSS can quickly reveal their locations.
Since April 23, 3303, there have been 16 confirmed discoveries of lost Generation Ships.
Be aware that some of the Generation Ships that have not taken up orbit around a body have changed their positions over time as they continued drifting through space; the position data documented below mostly reflects each vessel's general position at the time they were discovered by following the decoded Listening Post transmissions, and thus should not be relied upon today. Instead, the Full Spectrum System Scanner is currently the fastest and most accurate means of locating a Generation Ship within its system.
|Vessel||System||Original Location||Distance from Sol|
|Generation Ship Achlys||HIP 114458||Orbiting planet A 2||145.51 ly|
|Generation Ship Artemis||Mu Cassiopeia||Orbiting planet C 1||39.87 ly|
|Generation Ship Atlas||Charick Drift||Orbiting planet A||28.60 ly|
|Generation Ship Demeter||Mizuchi||Orbiting planet 2||95.68 ly|
|Generation Ship Epimetheus||HR 2351||Orbiting planet 4||194.04 ly|
|Generation Ship Hyperion||Lalande 2966||4th planet, then 7k ls towards Yemaki||121.53 ly|
|Generation Ship Lycaon||Alaunus||10th planet, then 22k ls towards Horae||52.62 ly|
|Generation Ship Odysseus||Ross 859||Orbiting planet B 1||165.98 ly|
|Generation Ship Phanes||Cephei Sector NX-U b2-0||Orbiting planet B 5||112.93 ly|
|Generation Ship Phobos||Coelachi||3rd planet, then 1.8k ls towards HIP 10229||272.03 ly|
|Generation Ship Pleione||Hez Ur||5th planet, then 8k ls towards Teuten||174.01 ly|
|Generation Ship Spear of Hope||HIP 21654||Orbiting planet 1 A||151.57 ly|
|Generation Ship Thetis||Nefertem||Orbiting planet 6 A||53.46 ly|
|Generation Ship Venusian||Kitae||2.5k ls towards Zephyrus||63.12 ly|
|Lazarus Expedition||Virudnir||Orbiting planet 6||158.32 ly|
|The Golconda||Upaniklis||Orbiting planet B 3||171.85 ly|
Generation Ship Lycaon
The Generation Ship Lycaon was discovered in the Alaunus system by CMDR Lexic Meise on April 23, 3303, and the first missing generation ship to have been located. The Lycaon's position can be reached by traveling to the 10th planet in the Alaunus system, then flying 22,000 ls in supercruise in the direction of the Horae system.
According to the Lycaon's logs, the generation ship's passengers were all wiped out by a contagious alien microorganism that had symptoms similar to influenza and was immune to all available vaccines. The microorganism had been picked up during a survey of an asteroid, and quickly spread through the ship. After the passengers died, the ship apparently lost power and came to rest in its present location.
Generation Ship Venusian
Generation Ship Venusian was discovered by CMDR Klumpozyte on April 26, 3303. It is located in the Kitae system, and can be found by traveling in supercruise 2,500 ls in the direction of Zephyrus.
The Venusian's logs explain that the ship was attacked and boarded by a pirate fleet seeking to capture the passengers to sell into slavery. A dozen crew members and about a hundred passengers were able to barricade themselves in a section of the ship for a while, but the ship's Executive Officer turned traitor and showed the pirates how to access hidden maintenance tunnels to get behind the barricades, ending the standoff. With the crew and passengers dead or enslaved, the Venusian was abandoned.
Generation Ship Hyperion
Generation Ship Hyperion was discovered by CMDR Vall on April 27, 3303. It is located in Lalande 2966, and can be found by traveling to the fourth planet in the system and then changing course toward Yemaki for 9,500 ls.
Hyperion's troubles began when the passengers began to worship a child named Zachariah as a messiah who would lead them to the "promised land". When the ship's commander tried to stop a ritual and detain Zachariah, he was thrown out an airlock. Eventually, Zachariah revealed his plan to open all of the ship's airlocks; the passengers went along with it, believing they would ascend to a higher plane of existence. The Hyperion's midshipman planned to kill Zachariah before he could carry out his plan, but failed, either because he was killed or he acted too late. The life support systems were overridden and the Hyperion vented its air, presumably killing all of the passengers and crew.
Generation Ship Odysseus
Generation Ship Odysseus was discovered by CMDR DarkShadowLYNX on April 28, 3303. It is located in Ross 859, orbiting the planet Ross 859 B 1.
During the Odysseus' journey, its passengers elected a governing council with absolute authority that decided to alter the generation ship's mission. Since the ship had sustainable food, water, medical supplies, and power, it was believed that living aboard it indefinitely was safer than risking a colonization effort on an unknown planet. Years later, during the fifth generation of passengers, the Odysseus faced a deadly disease outbreak. The council enacted martial law and quarantined parts of the ship, which were then vented out into space. Some passengers wanted to remove the council and force the Odysseus to let them off at the next habitable world, but none had any knowledge of how to survive outside the ship and without the council's laws. However, the disease returned. After twenty years of fighting a losing battle against the contagion, the council and most of the passengers had perished. One of the few remaining passengers recorded a warning to stay away from the ship.
Generation Ship Thetis
Generation Ship Thetis was discovered by CMDR Rhaider on April 28, 3303. It is located in Nefertem, orbiting the planet Nefertem 6 A.
Shortly into the Thetis's ninth generation, passengers began reporting whispering sounds coming from comms units. The sounds, a digital signal being picked up by the ship's comms array, drove passengers homicidally insane, resulting in the loss of whole decks. The signal was found to have originated from an uninhabited planet that the Thetis had passed 15 lightyears earlier. A crew member who accidentally heard the signal described it as a whisper that said "kill them all". The crew were unable to stop the signal's spread through the comms network, and the killings continued, with those affected also writing words in an unknown script on the walls in blood. The final log is a garbled transmission of the signal.
Generation Ship Pleione
Generation Ship Pleione was discovered by CMDR Carbucketty on May 5, 3303. It is located in Hez Ur, and can be found by traveling to the fifth planet in the system and then changing course toward Teuten for 8,000 ls.
Generation Ship Pleione failed because its passengers began to give birth to only male children. The ship's medical officer discovered that the ship's male passengers were only producing gametes with the Y chromosome, an inexplicable anomaly. While this could have been rectified with technology, the officer's predecessor had not seen fit to bring any medical equipment that could manipulate gender at the embryonic stage or any XX and XY genetic samples. Being that the males had no X chromosomes to give, even artificial insemination was not an option. Eventually, all of the ship's females reached an age where they could no longer conceive, dooming the population. The remaining (all male) passengers decided to abandon ship. The medical officer decided to stay behind and die with the mission.
Generation Ship Atlas
Generation Ship Atlas was discovered by CMDR Dilliam53 on May 23, 3303. It is located in Charick Drift, orbiting the star Charick Drift A.
As Generation Ship Atlas approached its destination, the ship's latest chief engineer, Tom Edwards, discovered that the ship was unable to brake, the result of a manufacturing fault that had gone completely undetected since the ship's construction. It was decided to adjust the Atlas's course and launch all the passengers and vital equipment in escape pods at the target world as the ship flew by it. Since the pod controls required a person to operate them, Edwards volunteered to stay behind, even though his wife Jean was pregnant. With the exception of one pod trying to launch early and exploding, the plan apparently succeeded and the passengers were evacuated thanks to Edwards' sacrifice. The ship's captain pledged to name their colony after him. The Atlas continued traveling for an unknown amount of time before finally running out fuel and coming to rest at its present location.
A Generation Ship named Lazarus Expedition was discovered by CMDR NazToR4 on September 16, 3303, months after the previous discoveries. It is located in Virudnir, orbiting the planet Virudnir 6.
The Lazarus Expedition became stranded in space after a cooling system suffered a catastrophic failure, which in turn damaged the propulsion system beyond repair. With the ship's supplies estimated to run out in a decade, the crew and colonists decided to dismantle the ship and convert it into life boats. After years of work, the life boats were completed, but the colonists' population had expanded beyond what the life boats could carry, so it was decided to give priority to women and children, and then ask for volunteers to stay behind. The life boats were successfully launched to multiple habitable worlds within range, while those who remained on the Lazarus Expedition accepted their fate, content that they had given hope to others.
Generation Ship Artemis
Generation Ship Artemis was discovered by CMDR Friend 360 on October 4, 3303. It is located in Mu Cassiopeia, orbiting planet Mu Cassiopeia C 1.
Recovered logs indicate the ship's crew and passengers were all murdered by a single serial killer over time. The first murders, in which the victims were savaged by bite and claw marks and more marks were left on walls, doors, and airlocks, were blamed on an illegal pet dog smuggled aboard by a colonist. Security assumed the dog had somehow escaped and killed the victims, despite the dog being found in its cage with no blood anywhere on its body, and euthanized it. Subsequent unregistered logs recorded by the true murderer, who likened himself to a wolf culling sheep, imply the attacks continued. Eventually, the other inhabitants of the ship began offering each other as sacrifices for the murderer in the hope of appeasing him, but the murderer insisted "The lesson must be repeated... until the baying falls silent." During his final words, the murderer is heard damaging the ship's reactor, an action which likely killed everyone on board.
Generation Ship Achlys
Generation Ship Achlys was discovered by CMDR Kal Adar on June 30, 3304. It is located in the HIP 114458 system, orbiting planet A 2, an Earth-like world.
At some point during its journey, the vessel's life support system suffered a catastrophic malfunction, killing all crew and passengers. With no crew input, the autopilot assumed control of the Achlys and ensured it kept to its default course. Upon arriving at the destination system, the autopilot attempted to return control to the crew for the final approach, but its alerts went unheeded. It finally scanned the ship for crew and passengers, and when none could be detected, it resorted to emergency protocols and activated a program that allowed itself to develop into an AI with 92% human intellectual capacity. The AI-autopilot quickly discovered the state of the humans aboard the Achlys and the cause of their deaths, but had no other option than to take up orbit around the planet that would have been colonized if the passengers had survived and await new directives.
Generation Ship Phobos
Generation Ship Phobos was discovered by CMDR SWiFT ViiZIONS and CMDR NEXTMHGDANGER on August 8, 3304. It is located in Coelachi, and can be found by traveling to Coelachi 3 d and then changing course toward HIP 10229 for 1,893 ls.
Generation Ship Phobos succeeded in safely reaching its target world, which was not identified in the logs, and established 15 settlements on it. Unfortunately for the colonists, the planet's indigenous flora and fauna were toxic and highly aggressive, and casualties quickly began to mount among survey teams. Not long after the colonists had declared an end to their mission and dismantled their landers, a number of creatures breached one settlement and slaughtered most of the inhabitants. The survivors trekked to Settlement Delta, but found it abandoned with signs that it had also been attacked. While Delta's lander had been kept as a monument instead of being dismantled and could still be used to return to the Phobos, its fuel cells were dry and it took several days to replenish them. When the survivors finally reached the Phobos and began reactivating its systems, they discovered too late that one of the creatures had stowed away aboard the lander. All but three colonists were killed before the creature was trapped in the farm pods, but it soon managed to escape and killed the rest. It is presumed that none of the other settlements survived either, and the Phobos reached its present position after its fuel ran out or its systems shut down.
Generation Ship Phanes
Generation Ship Phanes was discovered by CMDR Nexusprime on August 24, 3304. It is located in Cephei Sector NX-U b2-0, orbiting planet Cephei Sector NX-U b2-0 B 5.
Generation Ship Phanes reached its target world without incident, but its crew discovered upon arrival that the planet was uninhabitable. While the colonists wanted to turn back to Sol, the ship's command decided to continue its mission and search for another planet to colonize. This provoked an uprising that was violently suppressed. In order to keep the colonists under control, the ship's command fabricated reports that an unknown cataclysm had wiped out human civilization and the people aboard the Phanes were the only surviving humans in existence. The lie persisted unquestioned for generations, until one crew member, Warrant Officer Noonan, became suspicious of an elderly, senile senior officer named Admiral Kerr repeatedly insisting that a progress report be sent to Sol. Noonan used Kerr's command codes to access the ship's archives and learned the truth, and then told some trusted friends. Within hours, the news was everywhere and the Phanes once again became a battleground between those who wanted to return to Sol and those who wanted to continue the mission. The conflict likely resulted in the deaths of all of the ship's crew and passengers.
Generation Ship Demeter
Generation Ship Demeter was discovered by CMDR Chris Varley on August 29, 3304. It is located in Mizuchi, orbiting planet Mizuchi 2.
Generation Ship Demeter launched with a population of 3,000. Late into year 5 of its journey, several of the ship's vital systems abruptly failed. Life support continued to function, but would run out of power in a few decades, and bio-systems could only produce food for a few more years. The Demeter's captain ordered the crew to cover up the problems to prevent a panic. By year 187, the ship's population yet lived, but had regressed into tribalism. Four factions were locked in a conflict they called the "War of the Four Tribes": the Mechanics, the Peacekeepers, the Colony, and the Cultivators. The Peacekeepers had allied with the Colony against the Mechanics, who in turn were forced to seek an alliance with the Cultivators to gain control of the food stocks for leverage. By year 369, the fighting continued between two tribes: the Mechlords, presumably descended from the Mechanics and Cultivators, and the descendants of the Peacekeeper-Colony alliance. The struggle finally ended in year 537, with the Mechlords' descendants, the Last Eaters, at last victorious, albeit greatly reduced in number and long since forced to cannibalize their enemies to survive.
Generation Ship Epimetheus
Generation Ship Epimetheus was discovered by CMDR Bro x Legend on November 2, 3304. It is located in HR 2351, orbiting planet HR 2351 4.
Recovered logs tell the story of Joe Collins, Detainee #974, who claimed he was mistakenly detained for stealing a data chip that he was only planning on borrowing. Into his third day of incarceration, Joe recorded that a siren was sounding on the ship and he had not seen anyone else in two days. Joe feared that the ship had been evacuated due to some unspecified emergency, and he had been forgotten and left behind. By the ninth day, the siren had stopped, but no one had come for Joe; he survived thanks to automated systems that provided him with food and water, and disposed of his waste, but could not accept that he would be trapped alone in his cell on the Epimetheus indefinitely. By the time of Joe's final log on day 1,047, he had lapsed into insanity and believed that his isolation was a deliberate test which "the void" was trying to help him solve. Joe Collins presumably continued to live aboard the Epimetheus for as long as the automated life support systems held out. The cause of the Epimetheus's evacuation remains a mystery.
Generation Ship Spear of Hope
Generation Ship Spear of Hope was discovered by CMDR Nemaroth on November 23, 3304. It is located in HIP 21654, orbiting planet HIP 21654 1 a.
The Spear of Hope launched without a set destination, and instead depended on long-range "Pathfinder probes" to confirm the suitability of prospective colonization targets as it traveled. At some point, Technician Farrow departed the Spear of Hope alone in a shuttle on a year-long journey to repair a malfunctioning probe. Upon Farrow's return, she found the entire ship deserted. Data logs explained that the Spear of Hope's complement of 5,000 crew and passengers had staged an emergency evacuation eight months previously, when a viable planet had been identified which the ship was going to bypass. In the haste of the evacuation, Farrow had apparently been forgotten. With all other shuttles gone and no fuel left for Farrow's own shuttle, Farrow decided to try altering the Spear of Hope's course to slingshot around a nearby star in order to return to the planet. The only problem is that the trip would take 93 years, by which time Farrow would be 132 years old. As no planet in HIP 21654 is habitable or bears any signs of human habitation, it is unknown if Farrow's plan succeeded; the Spear of Hope either passed the planet again as intended and continued on until its power gave out in another system, or the slingshot maneuver failed and sent it on a different course.
The Golconda was discovered following the interception of a distress call by an Interstellar Association for Agriculture survey vessel on November 5, 3305. It was located in Upaniklis, orbiting planet Upaniklis B 3 and only 30 kilometers away from the outpost Forester's Choice.
Unlike previous documented Generation Ships, The Golconda was found both functional and with a living crew and colonists. Centuries ago, The Golconda safely arrived at its intended destination, but the passengers elected to remain aboard and continue journeying through space indefinitely due to concerns about living outside the vessel. As time went on, the colonists developed a unique culture and religion centered on a reverence for The Golconda as a kind of benevolent caretaker. They also maintained a policy of strict isolationism for their own protection. Although the colonists managed to live sustainably and preserve social order, by the 34th century, as the vessel passed through the Upaniklis system, they found their supplies running low and were struck by an outbreak of nasopharyngitis. Captain Jonathon Forester reluctantly decided to break The Golconda's radio silence and issue a distress call in the hopes that the human civilisation they had been separated from for over a thousand years would lend them aid. The discovery of The Golconda prompted the organisation of an Interstellar Initiative of the same name that resulted in the vessel's population choosing to migrate to a new orbital outpost built for them in Upaniklis named Forester's Choice, and accepting status as a Federal partner state with full autonomy. The Golconda itself was moved from its discovery site in interplanetary space to a close orbit of Upaniklis B 3 next to its colonists' new home.
In 3308, the Golconda was repaired by the Artificers Dredger Clan and fitted with a hyperdrive. It left Upaniklis with most of the Forester's Choice colonists on June 17, 3308 and started a new journey.
- DEV UPDATE (10/12/2015)
- ELITE DANGEROUS LORE on GENERATION SHIPS
- /r/EliteDangerous: The first Generation Ship has been discovered!
- Frontier Forums: Generation Ship "Venusian"
- /r/EliteDangerous: Another generation ship located: Hyperion.
- /r/EliteDangerous: Generation ship Odysseus discovered!!!
- /r/EliteDangerous: Generation Ship Thetis found. Madness and Ghosts and a mysterious signal*Spoilers
- /r/EliteDangerous: Generation Ship Pleione discovered
- Frontier Forums: Generation Ship Atlas
- Frontier Forums: I found NEW Generation Ship Lazarus
- YouTube: Elite Dangerous-Generation Ship: Artemis. Cmndr Friend 360
- r/EliteDangerous: Hi. So, is this a thing? Generation Ship Achlys
- imgur: Generation Ship Achlys
- /r/EliteDangerous: Generation ship Phobos
- r/EliteDangerous: NEW GENERATION SHIP DISCOVERED WITHIN THE BUBBLE - The Phanes
- YouTube: Elite Dangerous Generation Ship Demeter
- /r/EliteDangerous: Generation Ship Epimetheus
- r/EliteDangerous: Possible new Generation Ship found
- GalNet: Rockforth Corporation Releases Apology
- YouTube: Golconda New surviving Generation Ship voice logs 1-5 Elite Dangerous
- A Renewed Journey for the Golconda
- GalNet: Advocacy Defends Dredger Clan
- GalNet: Galactic Mysteries: Generation Ships
- GalNet: Golconda's Inhabitants Migrate to Forester's Choice
- GalNet: Federation Delivers Golconda’s New Home
- GalNet: A Gift from the Golconda
- GalNet: Superpowers Compete over Golconda's Future
- GalNet: Golconda Attracts Superpower Interest
- GalNet: Golconda Receives Vital Aid
- GalNet: The Golconda Generation
- GalNet: Inhabited Generation Ship Discovered
- GalNet: Galactic News: Generation Ship Found
- GalNet: Galactic News: Generation Ships
- GalNet: The Founding of the Federation