@Penchant: Yes, I looked it up. Starcraft operation applies to orbital shuttles. Without it, you take a -4 to Pilot and only get to add half your defense to the starship's defense. So, to a decent pilot, it's not absolutely necessary... but you'd probably went the person behind the helm to have it if there's a space battle going on.
@ArcaneStomper: You'll be provided with options. Those with appropriate stats will receive extra info (i.e. Someone with high ranks in the Pilot skill will get extra information on the options in the mobility system.) that they may choose to share or otherwise use to help sway their preference. There will usually be a trade off between two options.
@Yui_: I was originally going to say that Esperanto was the official language of space travel, but I ditched that because... it was just going to get in the way.
Yes, the world is more multi-cultured than today, but that doesn't mean we're all buddy buddy. There are plenty of reasons humans group into tribes (of sorts) and it helps us identify ourselves. Some cultures are more reserved and resistant to change. Technology is changing at a drastic pace, and there are plenty of cyborists (like racists, but against those who opt to have elective cybernetics) and the genetic modification front is a hot topic discussion in many places. Being born on a space station or on Mars has some true-Earth-born people feeling superior, and there's even a counter-culture of proud Martians. (People born on Mars, not just living there.)
As to the scout ship. That's why we've got an assault mech instead of a documentary robot. The Pythean got a lot of the explorer idealistic types for crew. The Hippalus got the more militant harder ones.
Originally Posted by ArcaneStomper
Bingo. More details will be provided once the game starts, but the Pythean is being sent to make first contact. The Hippalus (the other scout ship, yes) is being sent to find out why the Pythean disappeared and make sure no traces can be made back to Sol system.