We could conclude from the Endurance specification that it might carry many people (perhaps several dozens).

Also we know that:

Colonization was the true goal of the Endurance mission.

So it seems to be very strange that the Endurance crew consists of just 4 people. Isn't it?

IMO in order to ensure survival of a space colony the latter should number as many people as possible.

Even though we take into account the remark about artificial wombs, what about dangerous environment (such as one on Miller where Doyle has been killed)?

  • 1
    Which part of its specifications make you think it might carry several dozen people?
    – Hypnosifl
    Feb 23, 2015 at 17:53
  • I don't think they even had that many qualified people that can go into space. Also more people = more fuel.
    – Huangism
    Feb 23, 2015 at 18:52
  • 1
    They couldn't afford to pay any more actors =P Jun 3, 2015 at 5:52

1 Answer 1


As we get further into the film, we learn that even a single crew member is capable of undertaking Plan B, operating the artificial wombs on the Endurance and managing the population bomb cryogenics. Frankly it's overkill to even take four crewmen when...

there was never any real hope of operating Plan A.

On top of that, the ship is obvious designed to carry only a very small crew. Aside from the living module, the cargo areas and the propulsion units, there's barely enough space to fit four cryo-pods. They could probably have squeezed another couple in but when every breath counts, there's very little mileage in adding extra people merely for the sake of it.

The official novelisation makes the living situation a little clearer;

“Hey, we agreed,” she said. “Ninety percent.” With that she went to her own cryo-bed. Cooper returned his gaze to the infinite space outside of the ship.

“Don’t stay up too late,” Brand instructed. “We can’t spare the resources.”

“Hey,” Cooper objected with mock chagrin. “I’ve been waiting a long time to be up here.” “You are literally wasting your breath,” she said.


As they boarded the Endurance, it became clear that it wasn’t as roomy as it looked from the outside. Part of this was because two-thirds of each of the modules was taken up by storage. The floors, the walls—almost every surface was composed of hatches of various sizes. On a deep-space vessel, there could be no wasted space—not even one the size of a matchbox.

  • While I mostly agree with the "lack of space/breath" arguments, I can not agree with that few crewmen is enough to colonize an unknown planet. The fact is that NASA didn't know the real conditions on each planet (before the Endurance launch). AFAIU they didn't even know if any planet really suitable for human life (except Mann's report which has been falsified). Taking above into account the decision to board only 4 people on Endurance looks careless. Human life is fragile even on Earth, apart from alien planets which might easily kill few humans.
    – hindmost
    Feb 23, 2015 at 21:37
  • @hindmost - Toward the end of the novel it's made clear that any of the crewman (with the exception of Cooper) could raise the first generation of colonists single-handed using the artificial wombs to incubate a half-dozen embryos, then using surrogacy to generate the second generation, etc.
    – Valorum
    Feb 23, 2015 at 21:42
  • Unfortunately I haven't read the novel so I'm not competent to discuss it. However IMO "embryo incubation" itself cannot result in a full-fledged human. Human being is a product of education rather than just a gene combination. Breeding a human takes at least 10 years in the best case. If a single man/woman does this job, all that period long the future of the colony totally depends on his/her health (not only physical, but yet mental). If something bad happen with him/her, this mean in fact the death of the colony. IMO almost the same we can tell in the case of few men doing breeding job.
    – hindmost
    Feb 24, 2015 at 8:49
  • 1
    @hindmost -When they're down to two crew, we get this passage "They couldn’t thaw all of the embryos at once—the bomb would need to continue working for decades, at least. She wondered how many children she and Cooper would be able to manage, now that it was just the two of them. Five? Ten? At least he had some experience along those lines. You want a big family, Coop? It was going to be an odd conversation to have. Probably a painful one, too—at least for him.".
    – Valorum
    Feb 24, 2015 at 9:29
  • I did a propulsive analysis of Endurance and conclude that most of its space is actually engine, fuel, and propellant. Crew gets less than 35% of the space in the craft, perhaps much less.
    – Jim2B
    Jun 18, 2015 at 2:51

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