Surviving in space
Then, in the unlikely event if mankind were able to flee to a planet or celestial body in order to avert an apocalyptic scenario, how many people would be required to survive in space?
According to a 2018 study published in the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society and led by Frédéric Marin, an astrophysicist at the University of Strasbourg in France who specializing in astronomy, a starting crew of just 98 people would be sufficient for a 6,300-year journey to Proxima Centauri b, a potentially habitable Earth-like exoplanet orbiting Proxima Centauri, the nearest star to the sun.
49 unrelated breeding partners, ready to pass on their genes, rather than a random sampling of 98 individuals, would make up the Proxima Centauri b crew. A crew’s ability to reproduce would need to be regulated and limited in order for the population to continue being genetically varied and healthy throughout time. A follow-up analysis by Marin and colleagues, published in February on the preprint service arXiv.org, found that a bigger starting crew of 500 would probably be a safer decision since they would be more likely to keep their genetic variety with more breeding couples.
Smith advised against utilizing the bare minimum of people when conducting space operations. “My example is that you wouldn’t want the pilot to have exactly enough fuel to go to the airstrip in New York if you were boarding an airplane and it was taking you to that city. In case of emergency, you need to have a reserve.”