When the MCC determines that a new Carrier is necessary for the continued efficiency of the Fleet, they will take this request to the MCC Liaison on Earth. If approved, the MCC Liaison will then take the request to Budget and Funding, where funding is allocated to the project. After this point, the MCC will finalize designs and begin construction over Mars. If a batch of Warp drives has to be built to build the Carrier around, the MCC will further charter a solar-bound Carrier to build a batch of Warp Drive facilities in the Kuiper Belt. The MCC has always used the shipyards above Mars for Carrier construction, with the sole exception of Olympus.
After the Carrier construction is completed, the MCC then selects the crew and captain of the Carrier. This period of time can take quite a while, as the MCC is presented with a lot of political pressure from interests, both solar and extra solar, that want to influence to choosing of the crew. Usually, a majority of the crew will be selected from MCC personnel: both for their reliability, their loyalty to Mars, and as an incentive for their officers.
It is a reality of the warp drive that the only lines of communication between different settled systems (including the solar system) is the Carrier. It is also a reality of the Carrier that there will always exist less Carriers than there are demand – the cost of assembling a Carrier prohibit the mass production of these vessels. Thus, it is imperative for the Carriers to take an efficient route through the stars. All parties benefit: Colonies can periodic, predictable visits, Carriers maximize their cargo space to the benefit of their crews, and the Federation keeps the colonies within their political umbrella.
The MCC coordinates Carriers by prescribing routes to individual Carriers that are refreshed every time a Carrier arrives back to the Solar system. Carrier Captains are usually instructed that while the schedule cannot be enforced outside the Solar system, it is the most efficient one possible. The MCC will attempt to build in some redundancy in these schedules to give Captains some leeway to pursue matters that may come up during their run. After a Carrier arrives back in the Solar system, they are assigned a new schedule after informing the Internal Affairs Board of their financial activities.
The ability for the MCC to schedule Carriers is the primary means by which the MCC exerts influence over the Carrier Fleet. Captains would rather walk lockstep with the MCC than arrive in a system that is only recently visited by a rival Carrier. Doing so means that the Carrier will probably run empty, and the Federation will not hold themselves liable for the out-of-schedule movement of Carriers. The Captain, then, will be forced to answer to the crew why has to garnish their wages to keep his command going. This truth is obvious to every single Carrier Captain, and thus changing the itinerary of the Carrier is a right few Captains exercise.
The Carrier Fleet
The real power in the Federation, in fact, the whole of human civilization, lies with the Carriers. The Carriers, in turn, are in the hands of their crews. It could be said, then, that being assigned a command crew post by the MCC is one of the two ways for a modern individual to experience the power of a fiefdom.
Because each and every Carrier is independent of the Federation, legally speaking, while they are abroad, Carriers are highly independent operations. This independence comes with a cost, however – a Carrier that is under-performing might have a change of command crew, for instance.
Each Carrier has an account that is linked to the official business that the Carrier conducts. Whenever the Carrier purchases goods, fuel, rations or pays their crew wages, the account is expensed. Similarly, whenever the Carrier sells goods from one system to another, or performs a service such as transport immigrants or colony vessels, the Carrier gets a cut. This system exists so that continuous trade is encouraged by the Carrier Captains. If the account is depleted, the Carrier is forced into bankruptcy – while this is still a theoretical possibility, it means that Captains will be conservative when it comes to business decisions, which is for the benefit of the Federation.
Every Carrier eventually makes their way back to Earth, for a fresh schedule. While the crew are enjoying their home sun, the Carrier is brought under scrutiny, to avoid another Yamato incident. Their books are examined, to make sure that the transfers to and from their account are square. The private accounts of the command crew are subject to audit as well – it wouldn't be in the Federation's best interests if a Carrier captain decided to eliminate a potential rival administration by dropping debris from high orbit. If the books of the Carrier are founds to be acceptable, both branches of the Federation give the Carrier the leave for another run.
To prepare for another trade run, the Carrier's accounts are distributed: The crew may get a bonus, the Federation takes a portion, and the Carrier is given a new schedule from which they are expected to make profit for themselves and the Federation proper. Carrier captains will find their occupations rather cozy if the do as they are told.
However, Carriers have limitations: First and foremost, Carriers have to refuel. While Hydrogen can be stored in hyper dense tanks, feeding the frugal thirst of many Atomic Blenders aboard a modern Carrier mean that frequent fuel stops are necessary. Many colonies, in fact, make their wealth by selling hydrogen fuel to Carriers. Carriers regularly fuel at the Helios station complex around Jupiter in the Solar System, but it is not unknown for Carrier captains use a different fueling station within the colonies to save their account a little bit of money.
Carriers can also make or break a colony by refusing to buy goods that a particular colony might want to sell – Carriers can leverage the size of their cargo bays to buy goods at premium, below market prices. Colonies will accept these deals for the injection of capital, and so that they have leg up on competing administrations.