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Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
How's about this:

You have an item "Shuttlecraft". It could cost a bundle to make and come in different varieties: Tactical, Engineering and Science.

You could send approximately 5 doffs on a long term mission (i.e. 3 days + ) with this specialized item as a requirement for the mission. As shuttles are expensive, you wouldn't have tons of them.

Once a person reaches the rank of Admiral, then you could then undertake missions at Earth spacedock to commission (unlock) "ships" of various types for your disposal and mission trees to go along with them.