Exploration of the Stars

Selected Timeline
  • Explorer 1 departs Lunar orbit for Alpha Centauri.
  • Second Wave ramrobots depart for Tau Ceti, Delta Pavonis, Eta Cassiopei and DM+56 2966.
  • Report arrives from Alpha Centauri.
  • Third Wave ramrobots depart for Zeta Tucanae, DM+19 279, Beta Comae Berenices and Beta Canum Ventaticorum.
  • Report arrives from Tau Ceti.
  • Fourth Wave ramrobots depart for DM-32 8179, Chi1 Orionis and Beta Virginis.
  • Report arrives from Delta Pavonis.
  • Report arrives from Eta Cassiopei.
  • Report arrives from DM+56 2966.

By the start of the 22nd century Earth's increasingly impressive orbital infrastructure, advances in fusion drive technology and the phenomenal manufacturing power allowed by assemblers had finally brought the price of interstellar exploration within the reach of the Terran economy. The possibility of interstellar exploration and colonisation caught the imagination of the billions on Earth, becoming the Big Idea of the age.

The Galileo Lunar Observatory (GLO inc.) had by now identified Earth-like planets circling many nearby stars. Many groups thought the existence of life on so many planets so close meant intelligence would be similarly abundant: after all, why should the solar system be special?

With this in mind, UNSA began work on a fleet of interstellar probes. The first series of ramrobots were the Explorers, assembled at Soyuz-Mikoyan's Korolev Shipyard. The robot vessels were built around a ram-augmented fusion rocket. Nano-spun magnetodynamic collectors were used to capture ionised interstellar hydrogen for fuel, enabling a maximum speed of 0.55c. The ramrobots carried a swarm of smaller probes and landers to survey planets and asteroids, under the direction of sophisticated autonomous expert systems.

On 28 September 2110 Explorer 1 ignited its catalytic fusion drive and departed from Lunar orbit. Three weeks later it deployed its ramscoop and began the long voyage to Alpha Centauri. In 2118, Explorers 2, 3, 4 and 5 followed it into the interstellar dark, heading for Tau Ceti, Delta Pavonis, Eta Cassiopei and DM +56 2966.

The exploration of the stars was the making of GLO, which broke free of its backers in 2134 and marketed its discoveries as commercial information to all comers. By the end of the century it was undertaking 1.6% of all solar basic research, employing 7.5 million people in research alone. It also designed and tested many products, then selling them to the eventual manufacturers. As an example, it was responsible for most of the solar mirrors, ramrobots and colonyships and one of the five beanstalks constructed in the 22nd century.

Archipelago: 1 | 2 3 | 4 5 6 | Now

The future of Ad Astra

Site Meter