Space Race

From Acw

Contents

The Moon Landings (1947 - 1990)

A Base On Mars (1990 - 2038)

  • The Germans land on Mars in 1997, colonising Marsburg.
  • The USSR established the small Mars Colony Voskhod in 1998.
  • In 2006 under the Treaty of Voskhod, GDL and the USSR agreed to co-operate on the terraforming.
  • In 2011 large scale terraforming begins on Mars with the German and Russian fleets detonating nuclear weapons at the poles. The resulting detonations melt water and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Simultaneously, the first Great Mirror moves into position over the northern pole. Meanwhile on the surface large scale factories produce CFCs and PFCs.
  • In 2014 the first microbial lifeforms are released across the globe, genetically engineered to help build an atmosphere.
  • In 2015 the first of seventeen asteroids is sent into the Martian atmosphere. These gas rich asteroids largely burn up in the atmosphere serving to add volume to the thin Martian atmosphere.
  • In 2023 terraforming of Mars is sufficiently completed to allow a man to breath the atmosphere unaided for short periods of time.
  • In 2027 most released species have begun to adapt to life on their new home.
  • In 2030 both Russian and German nations begin large scale population relocation to Mars. The expected lifespan of these colonists settles in the mid thirties as many difficulties are encountered. Despite this, many are willing to seek a new better life on Mars.
  • In the 2020s and 30s, Britain constructed experimental arcology housing on Phobos and Deimos, using technology that was later copied by the Germans on Luna and Arminius, to make otherwise barren moons liveable and almost self-sufficient.

The Asteroid Belt and The Moons of the gas giants (2038 - 2118)

  • In 2038 the British are the first to lay claim to an asteroid in the belt. Largely for political reasons they lay claim to Ceres - at 1000 km in diameter, it is the largest in the belt. It is also further from Earth than any other space outpost. The push by the SBE for arcology technology development is now obvious leaving the other Super powers realing.
  • By 2045 all space-faring nations have established outposts on at least one asteroid. Of the largest asteroids in the belt, GDL claim Vesta, USSR claim Pallas whilst the UISA lay claim to Juno.
  • By 2060 the four major powers have large shipyards in the asteroid belt.
  • The mining of the Moons of Saturn from Titan began in 2093, with all four major powers building outposts on the large moon to mine the smaller satellites.
  • Ganymede was the first American extra-terrestrial possession, annexed in 2104, and is used as a research base only.

Extrasolar excursions (2118 to present day)

Ark Ships

The Migration Crises of the 2120s and the success of the Nazi-Soviet terraforming efforts on Mars forced policymakers to seriously consider colonising the rest of the Solar System. Pickings were relatively slim after Mars, with only a few of the gas giant moons being available for terraforming or colonisation. Thus, the Ark Ship was created.

These were giant hulls, assembled in orbit, designed to carry generations of human, plant and animal life over hundreds of years and hundreds of light-years, at between 86% and 92% the speed of light, to their eventual destinations. They produced artificial gravity through centrifugal force by rotating in flight, the better to keep their occupants alive and healthy.

Massive Undertakings

Ark Ships were massive undertakings, which took up to a decade to build, and supported between 300,000 and 500,000 colonists, many of them skilled labourers tasked with making sure the terraforming processes would work. Population pressures on Earth were so great that many colonists lived on the ships while still under construction in orbit. The ships were the largest ever constructed, bloated and massive. They were some 100 kilometers long, and the circumference of the central centrifuge was 80km. Population density within the centrifuge was very high, and stores and engines were suspended in the center of the cylinder.

Only Britain and the UISA constructed these behemoths and launched them toward distant solar systems. They were outfitted with everything the colonists would need to survive on their own in the depths of space, and construct a new world when they arrived at their new solar systems. There were a total of three Ark Ships. In 2127 the UISA opened the age of the Ark Ships by sending the Liberty to New Iowa in the Griffin system. In 2134 the British sent the Ark Ship Boadicea towards Hydra, and its sister ship the Arthur to Griffin.

Too little too late

Even so, with only 1.1 million people in the three Ark Ships combined, this program was far too little, far too late, and would never have solved the apparently insurmountable problems faced by Earth in the early 2100s. The Russian and German Mars resettlement programs were more successful, but even they were but a drop in the ocean. These were desperate measures for desperate times, and would never have been attempted had these policymakers realised what the Russians had up their sleeves.

Losing contact

No Ark Ship successfully maintained contact with its Home World, and as yet none have reached their destinations. The Arthur's last communication was received in 2140, and reported no problems, well before the first FTL ship was ready, and the Boadicea was not heard from after 2136. The Boadicea's last radio broadcast was garbled and indistinct, the transmission obscured by massive interference, possibly caused by heavy radiation. What was decipherable suggested that a massive impact had severely damaged parts of the ship, but no more could be ascertained.

The Liberty, the largest and most distant ship, held on the longest. It was still transmitting in 2142, and apparently received a return transmission explaining to sit tight and wait for the FTL rescue ship. A small joint UISA-SBE FTL ship was dispatched to the last known whereabouts of all three ships in 2146 (as soon as the Krasnikov Generators could be spared), but nothing was found. Conspiracy theorists claim that one or more Ark Ships are still out there, but such unfounded speculation is clearly ludicrous.

The tragedy of the Ark Ships is one of the worst policy mistakes in the history of Space Exploration.



The Age of Faster than Light travel

In 2131, three years before the British launched their desperate colonists in the Arthur and the Boadicea toward almost certain doom, a small team of Russian scientists from the Research Bureau of the Commissariat of Space Exploration, led by Anatoly Kuznetsov, was attempting to bring about their own solution to the problem. The Commissariat had received a massive influx of funding in the wake of the 2114 Prague Sit-in, when the government of the USSR realised just how soon the massive migrations away from the equator would become in the next few years.

Russian Innovation

Rather than build Ark Ships like their rivals, the Bureau went on a slightly different path. In deep space in 2131, they were observing a large device mounted on the side of an asteroid they had towed out past Pluto. From a safe distance, they caused the device, a primitive Krasnikov generator, to produce the first controlled wormhole. Due to the size of the gravity fields even at this extreme of the Solar System, the wormhole was only three millimeters in diameter and spanned only five meters, and collapsed after thirty seconds, seriously damaging the generator. Despite this, the test was decisive. Only four years later, they were ready to reveal it to the galaxy.

The first tests were conducted in extreme secrecy, the Russians not wishing to divert their enemies' attentions and finances from their frantic Ark Ship building programs. in 2135 after an incredible and unprecedented crash research program, they were not so circumspect, and demonstrated in front of amazed journalists as they sent the first unmanned probe was sent through a wormhole to the Hydra system. After two hundred years of theoretical speculation and twenty years of unsuccessful attempts, FTL travel was finally here.

All the major powers looked on, amazed at this development. Krasnikov Generators had been a theoretical possibility or centuries, but no-one had made one work and only the Russians had been pursuing them. Old research was dusted off, double-agents re-activated, and the CIA, MI7 and the Abwehr went into overdrive trying to steal the Russian research. Russia continued its lead in the technologies well into the 2140s, and it was 2143 before any other power commenced manufacture of a stable and functional Krasnikov device.

British Imitation

That power was Britain. The dynamic young King George VII had begun construction of a further Colony Ship hull even before the two Ark Ships had left. Construction was postponed when the Russian experiment became common knowledge, and the ship's design was modified on the fly as the British developed their FTL technology.

When George died in 2142, he left behind him a nation that had just managed to reverse engineer a generator capable of sustaining a wormhole for manned flight. His daughter Victoria II continued to push the program, and by December 2143 the George VII (renamed from George V by Victoria) was ready to be launched to Hydra.

The astonishing pace of British FTL development is one of the stand out development programs in the history of space travel. It was only eight years from first seeing the technology in action to building one large enough to get a full-sized colony ship to Hydra. This was managed by building the George VII's generator alongside the smaller-scale test generator, so therefore Britain's only FTL colony ship was powered by a prototype.

Also see

Time Line

  • In 2138 the Russians are the first to produce a functional manned faster than light ship.
  • In 2141 the Germans produce their first faster than light ship.
  • By 2142 all major space faring nations have acquired FTL technology and begin construction of FTL capable colonist ships.
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