Part Two: The Cradle of Ice and Stone
(Part One: The Great Collapse – click here)
The first expansion begins. Under the authority of The Accords, the Union Executive Council conscripts and re-commissions orbital facilities mothballed during the Great Collapse. This allows for rapid expansion of operations in Low Earth Orbit.
Planning begins for the deployment of an equatorial space elevator
The Union Executive Council establishes the Cartel Charter to manage resources, coordinate construction, plan migration, and support general operations of the Union.
Six Original Cartels are commissioned:
- DevCartel (research/development)
- DoCartel (manufacturing)
- SourceCartel (resource management)
- WellCartel (medical/life-science)
- FleetCartel (transportation)
- ArtCartel (social/entertainment)
The Union establishes Lunar Base Alpha near the site of a former private moon base in the Sinus Iridum basin.
Construction of Space Elevator-1 begins.
The Union establishes Galileo Station at Lagrange One as a staging and transfer center for lunar operations. Galileo will also become the capital of Union Government as the facility expands to provide more operations space.
Space Elevator-1 goes online, greatly reducing cost of access to space operations. Initially a fair portion of its capacity carries materials for space fabrication.
Lunar Base Alpha is rededicated as “New Hope City” and opened for immigration of refugees from Earth.
Testing is completed for an advanced hydrogen fusion propulsion system capable of providing cost effective space transportation.
Human population of the Solar System: 1.2 billion.
The global average temperature reaches 7.5°C above preindustrial levels.
A steady death rate from famine, and a birth rate of 1.0, combine to result in a population reduction of 800 million.
By the end of 2125. Nearly 5 million people have left the Earth and live in the LEO Colonies, at Galileo Station, or in New Hope City.
The global drought ends with massive flooding throughout North America and Europe. Many domesticated vegetables and grains are not adapted to the higher temperatures and much of the previous farmland is no longer arable. Agricultural production continues to suffer.
Early spring heat releases multiple plant pathogens from the tundra. Scientists work to engineer adapted varieties of plant, but the human diet loses much of its variety because many plant species become extinct.
Accelerating ice melt from Antarctica contributes to an overall 3% reduction in land surface area on earth. All former coastal cities must be abandoned. Resource cost for this inland migration slows deployment of the Space Elevator-2.
Food production on Earth falls to 15% of pre-collapse levels, however lunar based hydroponic farming facilities are able to produce enough additional food to maintain acceptable dietary standards for all of humanity for the first time since 2076.
Space Elevator-2 comes online and becomes the predominant means of exodus for humans leaving Earth. Space Elevator-1 becomes a cargo transport system.
A magnetic catapult goes into operation on the lunar surface for boosting payloads to Lagrange and LEO stations. Establishing bidirectional low-cost transportation allows for an exponential increase in production.
FleetCartel establishes a shipyard facility in Lunar L-2 and begins producing multipurpose ships for exploration of the solar system. DoCartel operates several shipyards in LEO but produces ships for specific operation in Near Earth space only.
Martian exploration begins with the establishment of a permanent operational base on Phobos. Phobos Landing is set up to support exploration of the Martian surface.
Living conditions on Earth have deteriorated to the point where riots erupt when the Executive Council announces that establishing a permanent Mars colony will require an in-depth survey that will take upwards of a decade.
Efforts begin to deflect a near Earth asteroid into a stable Mars/Hohmann transfer orbit. This asteroid will become part of a long-term transportation system between Earth and Mars and is named the Aldrin Cycler (after the American Astronaut who proposed the idea).
DoCartel establishes Mars Alpha Base in the Chryse Planitia as a future colony site.
Deimos Staging is set up to facilitate migration efforts in preparation for the establishment of the Mars Alpha surface colony. Together with Phobos Landing, these two bases become known collectively as “The Twin Cities.”
Two years ahead of schedule, Mars Alpha Base is rededicated as “Burroughs Colony” and opens for migration. A large portion of the Twin Cities population immediately relocates to the Martian surface.
The Aldrin Cycler achieves a stable Hohmann transfer orbit and DoCartel constructs a permanent base in the asteroid to facilitate mass-migration of humans from Earth to Mars. Colonists transfer from LEO to temporary housing in the Cycler, and then to the Twin Cities once it arrives at Mars. This will provide a regular influx of residents for the rapidly growing Burroughs Colony.
Human population of the Solar System: 1.06 billion. For the first time since the Great Collapse, the reduction in population is the result of birthrates on Earth falling to 0.8 and not disaster or warfare. Earth’s population is 900 million. Off planet population is 160 million with a birth rate of 2.7.
The global average temperature reaches 8.1°C above preindustrial levels. This marks a drastic slowing in temperature climb due to the reduction in methane efficacy and because of increased carbon uptake in the environment.
SourceCartel establishes Vesta Base in the asteroid belt to serve as a material processing center for asteroid mining operations. This becomes the furthest outpost in human civilization.
DevCartel proposes the establishment of a new Cartel with the purpose of terraforming Mars and reversing the climate collapse of Earth. This would require an amendment to the Union Charter. After several contentious council sessions, the motion is killed, under the pretense that it would simply add another layer of bureaucracy to the government. This fighting creates bitter inter-cartel rivalries, and forces covert alliances between some Cartels.
DoCartel and FleetCartel establish Ceres Base with the largest ship-based space migration in Union history. Established to be an outer solar system administrative facility, this base is the most extensive human construction project since the New Vision began.
Mars Beta Base is established in the Elysium Planitia.
Engineering begins to modify the orbit of a NEO to establish a “forced-resonance” cycler between Earth and Ceres Base. This facility will travel between the Earth and the asteroid belt, however because Ceres is not in Earth resonance, it will require continuous orbital adjustment to maintain a regular schedule.
A large “Floater” population relocates to the cycler asteroid and establishes permanent residence while construction and orbital modifications are made.
Mars Beta Base is rededicated as Bradbury Colony. Population pressure in Burroughs causes a massive migration to the new colony, but Earth immigrants quickly exceed Martian natives. This is the first time that the physical atrophy of non-earth natives becomes a social issue. The disparity in development causes sporadic violence in the new colony.
The Human population of the Solar System: 1.036 billion. Only 650 million live on Earth and the birth rate has fallen to 0.7. Off planet birth rate approaches 3.4.
The global average temperature reaches 8.5°C above preindustrial levels. The Executive Council announces that the temperature rise appears to be reaching its peak. The populace takes the announcement as reason for hope and the Council declares a system-wide holiday. This marks the first time everyone has an official day of rest since the establishment of the Union.
Mars Gamma Base is established in the Daedalia Planum.
Martian farms produce 50% of the solar system’s food supply.
Ceres Transfer Station is established to transport people between Earth and Ceres. This is the first successful forced-resonance cycler.
Mars Gamma Base is rededicated as Robinson and opens for migration.
The Executive Council announce the Mars Aquifer Project. It will be a massive drilling and pipeline development in the Xanthe Terra region and is intended to support Martian agriculture in Burroughs Colony. This project will take 8 to 10 Earth years to complete.
Second forced-resonance cycler established between Mars and Vesta base.
Human population of the Solar System: 1.07 billion. This marks the first time that the population has grown since the Great Collapse began. It also is the first time that more people live in space than on the surface of the Earth.
The global average temperature reaches 8.8°C above preindustrial levels.
Seven years late, the Mars Aquifer Project finally connects to the Burroughs water supply. Pumping begins.
Two months later, an indigenous microbe infects the colony water supply. Within thirty-six hours of the first detection of this microbe, the entire population of Burroughs Colony is dead.
Panic destabilizes the other two Colonies and until contagion potential can be determined, all transportation from the surface of Mars stops.
It is determined that Martian microbes do remain alive within the structure of plants and will infect animals that consume them. The Executive Council orders all food produced by Burroughs destroyed.
The Executive Council also orders the other Mars colonies evacuated. Twenty-seven million residents crowd into the bases on Phobos and Deimos.
Because of the loss in food supply and the concurrent arrival of the Aldrin Cycler, the Twin Cities are unable to offload any of the one million arriving immigrants, nor can they evacuate any of the refugees to the cycler for the return trip to Earth.
The Mars/Vesta resonance cycler is still six weeks from Mars.
Nineteen million people die of starvation in the Twin Cities waiting for evacuation.
Many voluntarily return to the surface of Mars, expecting to die of the Burroughs Pathogen. The infection has not shown up in either of the two remaining colonies, but those who return must accept permanent exile behind what becomes known as the “Red Wall.”
Riots erupt across the solar system as the Executive Council imposes harsh rationing and tries to move the refugees to other colonies.
New Hope City ramps up food production as rapidly as possible. Unfortunately, the agricultural water supply and transportation limitations mean the food crisis spreads faster than the relocation efforts.
It takes several years before the crisis will end in all areas of the solar system.
Food supply fails to meet dietary requirements and rationing is causing civil unrest to reach critical levels.
Lunar agriculture reaches the limit of production without additional water resources. Although Earth has ample water, bringing it from the surface requires more space on the elevator systems than is available.
The Executive Council orders a manned expedition to the moons of Jupiter to assess water supply potential there. After the Burroughs Incident, the plan is to deploy a science vessel to determine whether life is present in any of these ice encrusted oceans before further effort is made to harvest any water.
Jovian mission arrives at Europa. First landing determines that complex organic structures and life forms exist throughout its ocean. It is determined that the risk of pathogenic disaster is too great. Surveys of the other Jovian moons produce similar results.
Because of the discovery of life in the Jovian water, the Executive Council decides to focus on comet harvesting as an interim solution, while plans are developed for a mission to Saturn. Preliminary studies done by SourceCartel indicate that solar radiation levels sterilize water in small comets. Unfortunately, cometary orbits tend to be more elliptical, so they are more challenging targets.
The second water prospecting mission arrives at Saturn. They find that the larger moons also support indigenous life and are unacceptable sources of water.
While on site, the science vessel surveys the planet’s ring system. Although there is ample water, harvesting and transporting the smaller ice fragments in the rings to the farms at New Hope City will be technologically problematic. If not contained inside a cargo container, most of the mass will sublimate before it arrives at its destination.
Ceres Base gears up to build a fleet of large enclosed freighters to haul the smaller aggregate ice during transport. Another construction surge turns the asteroid into a boom town once again.
In spite of the massive scale of the ice harvesting operations, the water crisis continues to be critical.
To ease social unrest, priority is given to human consumption and agriculture, but concern is mounting that without an additional influx of water, transportation between the colonies and bases of the solar system will become problematic within forty years.
Water is the primary propellant mass in the hydrogen fusion engines used for all interplanetary human transportation, and without that, the colonies are unsustainable. This information is kept secret from the general public.
After a long-term study, the DevCartel proposes the Deep Solar Ice Prospector Directive to develop technologies to retrieve larger ice resources from the inner edge of the Kuiper Belt. The Neptune Lagrange Clusters are known to have captured cometary masses into stable circular orbits, so these are potentially ideal ice mining locations in spite of their extreme distance.
DevCartel launches an automated science probe to the Neptunian L-4 Cluster to confirm ice density in the cluster.
The Ice Prospector Probe sends back confirmation that the L-4 Cluster has vast ice resources. After two months in the cluster, the probe mysteriously ceases to transmit data. DevCartel dispatches a science vessel to make a follow up assessment and to confirm the probe’s findings.
The Science Vessel Hector arrives in the L-4 cluster and vanishes.
Ceres shipyard lays the keel for the Jakob Waltz. The Mission Charter is to conduct a prospecting survey and ice harvesting operations in the Neptunian L4 cluster. The ship design utilizes unique technology for retrieving ice masses larger than 2 km in diameter.
Capable of refueling directly from ice found in situ, it does not carry return fuel and will stay in the L-4 cluster potentially as long as ten years.
Launch of the Jakob Waltz.
Arrival of the Jakob Waltz at L-4 Prime.