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"One of the great tragedies of mankind is that morality has been hijacked by religion. So now people assume that religion and morality have a necessary connection."
- Arthur C. Clarke

Generation Ship  
  A spacecraft that carries a complete social group over many years.  

This is the first use of "generation ship" in fiction; see caveats below.

‘What I can't understand is why, if the Builders had perfected suspended animation, they had to have personnel at all. Why not staff the Ship with men and women in deep-freeze, send off the Ship, and let them waken when they had arrived?’‥


(The star ship from 'Star Ship' by E.C. Tubb)

‘First, there are two ways by which men can reach the stars. One is by suspended animation as you have suggested, the other is by generation ship, which this is. We have combined both and so avoided the weaknesses inherent in either. The generation ship depends on new blood replacing the old, but the danger is that the new blood will forget what it should remember. Sixteen generations is a long time, Jay. Even with continual use of educational tapes it is still hard for some people to accept the fact that the Ship is nothing but a metal can drifting in the void. To them the Ship is the universe and they just can't imagine anything possibly being bigger. The Deep-freeze method is just as bad. Then the personnel have to rely wholly on automatic machinery, even as we do, but they are far more vulnerable than a generation ship could ever be. And there is another thing. We still aren't certain that they will be fertile after deep-freeze. The animals are, the men and women should be, but no one has ever rested in suspended animation for more than three hundred years before. It was a chance we dared not take.’

Technovelgy from Star Ship, by E.C. Tubb.
Published by New Worlds Science Fiction in 1955
Additional resources -

Samuel R. Delany uses this term in his 1965 story Ballad of Beta-2:

"they left Earth for the stars in their ships early in 2242, expecting to cruise through space for twelve generations before reaching an uncertain destination. They'd been gone only sixty years when the hyperspace drive became a large-scale reality. By the time the ten remaining generation-ships arrived in the Leffer system, Earth had already established a going-business of trade and cultural exchange, already a hundred or so years old, with scores of planetary systems.

Compare with the city ship from Star of Wonder (1953), by Julian May. The New Frontiers from Robert Heinlein's Methuselah's Children was effectively a generation ship - except everyone lived so long! Also, see the multi-generation space voyage from The Return of the Murians (1936) by Nat Schachner and slowboat from The Ethics of Madness (1967) by Larry Niven.

Robert H. Goddard was perhaps the first to write about multi-generational interstellar voyages in his 1918 essay "The Last Migration". He described the death of the Sun and the need for an interstellar ark. The crew would face the centuries of travel by sleeping and would be awakened when they reach another star system.

Konstantin E. Tsiolkovsky described the need for multiple generations of passengers in his 1928 essay "The Future of Earth and Mankind". A space colony called Noah's Ark travels for thousands of years.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Star Ship
  More Ideas and Technology by E.C. Tubb
  Tech news articles related to Star Ship
  Tech news articles related to works by E.C. Tubb

Generation Ship-related news articles:
  - Spaceships Should Last So Long

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