2155 A Commercial Mining Vessel Embarks for an Asteroid.
Over the past century, the exploration of asteroids has transitioned from a solely scientific endeavor to a commercially viable operation. Early scientific missions to asteroids began in earnest during the mid-21st century, using a blend of chemical rockets and electric propulsion to make the long journey to these small celestial bodies. These missions provided us with valuable insights into the composition of asteroids, confirming that a wealth of resources that had been detected by long range spectroscopy was ready to be exploited.
In the decades leading up to 2155, the increasing demand for construction materials in high Earth orbit and the growing needs of industries and populations for auto-fabrication inputs and metamaterials have catalyzed a shift in the space economy. Lifting these materials from Earth had become prohibitively expensive at scale, leading to a reliance on lunar mining. However, the moon's resources, while more cost-effective than Earth's, have still turned out to be too expensive for large scale construction in orbit.
In response, an international consortium of companies, including Star Industries from Ethiopia, Chandra SpaceWorks from India, Celestial Extraction Corp and Andean Sky Mining from South America, with significant involvement from North Star Resources and EuroSpace Materials, began to look beyond lunar mining. Their objective was to extract a range of resources from asteroids, including construction materials such as iron, aluminum, and titanium, volatiles like hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen for fuel and consumption, water, lithium, trace elements like phosphorus, and rare earths including gold and platinum.
As a result of decades of advancements in fusion technology, the open injector fusion core and high-performance magnetic mirrors had become commercially viable. This development enabled fusion torch propulsion to be used for asteroid movement. With this technology, reactor plasma, augmented by reaction mass, could be directly converted into exhaust, significantly boosting propulsion in situations where reactor fuel and reaction mass are abundantly available. This presented a more cost-effective and manageable way of bringing resources from deep space closer to Earth.
In 2155, the consortium launched the first commercial mining ship, equipped primarily with components for fusion torch engines. The target: a richly resourced asteroid in the asteroid belt. The plan was to install the engines on the asteroid's core and bring it into Earth's orbit. Unlike prior missions, which were primarily scientific and brought back small asteroids for research and construction in orbit, this mission was purely commercial.
The concept of harnessing asteroid resources was not new. There had been numerous scientific missions to asteroids, with landings and sample-return endeavors becoming increasingly common. However, these missions were constrained by their scale; they only collected small samples for scientific study. The breakthrough came with the development of technologies enabling asteroids to be moved into Earth orbit. This innovation, combined with the maturation of in-space manufacturing techniques, opened up possibilities for large-scale resource extraction and utilization.
The fusion torch engine played a pivotal role in this shift. These engines, installed on cometary nuclei, offered the power and endurance required to alter the trajectories of these celestial bodies significantly. The fusion torch engines were fueled by the hydrogen found in abundance in the comets themselves, providing a virtually limitless source of propellant. With these engines, asteroids could be brought into Earth orbit, effectively creating a new class of near-Earth objects ripe for exploitation.
The commercial venture, however, was fraught with economic risks. Moving a large asteroid into Earth's orbit was a decades-long project. In that time, the economic, political, and technological landscape could change dramatically, potentially affecting the venture's profitability.
Still, as space became increasingly commercialized, it ceased to be the exclusive domain of astronauts and scientists. The promise of wealth from asteroid mining attracted a diverse range of people to space-related occupations, leading to a significant cultural shift. Space was no longer the final frontier; it was the next frontier for business.
2158 Peace Corps' First Lunar Mission and Establishment of the Space Patrol.
In 2158, the Peace Corps is thrust into an escalating conflict between competing commercial ventures on the Moon. These corporate rivals, supported by hired mercenaries, have been engaged in a tense standoff for years over valuable lunar resources. When the situation turns violent, the Peace Corps is called upon to intervene, marking its first mission on the lunar surface. The Peace Corps assembles a ragtag team of brave individuals. They face a unique challenge: enforcing peace in the stark, low-gravity environment of the Moon with neither the equipment nor the training designed for such a scenario.
The lunar surface becomes an eerie battlefield, its tranquility disrupted by a silent but intense conflict. The Peace Corps team navigates the unique conditions, operating in restrictive spacesuits and adapting to low-gravity combat. They intervene forcefully, demonstrating Earth's intolerance for off-world hostilities. The peacekeepers' firm stance, backed by their readiness to use force, effectively brings the violent conflict to a halt. However, this success comes at a price: five mercenaries and one Peace Corps member lose their lives in the action.
The intervention’s aftermath sees a crucial development in space law enforcement: the formation of the Peace Corps' Space Patrol. This dedicated unit, specifically trained and equipped for off-world operations, stands as a direct response to the Moon conflict.
Over the years the Space Patrol grows and expands as a multinational peacekeeping force specialized for off-world operations. Response team are usually quite small. They are specifically trained and equipped for engagements in outer space, in earth orbit, in habitats, on the moon and beyond.
The ad-hoc team drawn up in 2158 for the first moon mission goes down into history as Team-Zero. Members of Team-Zero become the face of the Space Patrol. These are the pioneering individuals who set the course for future peacekeeping operations in space:
- Major Olivia 'Liv' Moreno: A seasoned peacekeeper with years of service on Earth, Liv finds herself leading the untested Team-Zero. Despite the lack of specific training, her strategic prowess and adaptability make her an effective leader in the hostile lunar environment.
- Lieutenant Max 'Astro' Astrovski: A former commercial and military spaceflight pilot. Astro takes the team to the target area. His experience in the operation of spaceships, shuttles and military technology is invaluable. He is the team's specialist for navigation, transport, and logistics.
- Sergeant Zara 'Doc' Khan: A medic with experience in conflict zones, Doc's ability to improvise medical treatments in the low-gravity environment saves several lives, including those of the mercenaries they were sent to stop fighting.
- Mr. Noah Grimaldi: An experienced negotiator with a knack for deescalation. He uses his skills to defuse several potential flashpoints during the mission. His bravery under fire contributes significantly to the team's survival. He can prevent the conflict from spreading to other moon stations and he ultimately convinces the conflicting parties to stop fighting.
- Specialist Hiro 'Tech' Takashi: A former tech consultant for various lunar mining companies, Hiro's knowledge of the lunar infrastructure and resource extraction technologies proves invaluable. He plays a crucial role in sabotaging the mercenaries' operation.
- PFC Evie 'Rookie' LeBlanc: The youngest member of the team and a recent recruit to the Peace Corps, Evie grew up in zero gravity. She has a natural absolute orientation and specialized in 0G combat tactics and technique from an early age. That's why she joins the team despite her youth. Tragically, she loses her life in the mission, becoming the first Peace Corps casualty in space.
Her courage and sacrifice play a crucial role in the creation of the Space Patrol. Despite this loss, Team-Zero's intervention on the moon is considered a success. It lays the foundation for future peacekeeping missions in space ensuring a safer future for off-world commercial and scientific ventures.
Other notable missions:
- Emergency Space Habitat Restoration Mission (2160): The Space Patrol faces a daunting task when a habitat is seriously breached in multiple locations by a swarm of small meteoroids. The rescue team manages to seal the breaches effectively, restoring the habitat to a safe condition in record time.
- Moon Base Emergency Support (2161): The Space Patrol launches a mission when a lunar base is cut off from communications due to a system failure. The base sends a disturbing message before comms break off, triggering an immediate rescue mission. Upon arrival, it turns out to be a non-threatening situation. The Corps provides technical support, restoring communications, and ensuring the base's continuous operation.
- Inter-Base Mediation (2162): Water, a precious resource in space, becomes the center of a heated dispute about mining rights between two lunar mining outposts. The Space Patrol steps in to mediate, under the leadership of Noah Grimaldi. Through negotiation and arbitration, Grimaldi successfully leads both parties to a compromise, ensuring a fair distribution of water resources and averting potential conflict. Unfortunately, the peace holds only one year before hostilities resume.
- Biohazard Containment (2163): Following a potential biohazard threat at the lunar station "Pavagadh Prahari," the Space Patrol initiates a mission to prevent the uncontrolled spread of the threat. They successfully contain the biohazard, averting a potential crisis, and establish new protocols for biohazard containment in space.
- Rescue Operation for Stranded Astronauts (2164): Cosmonauts from the Free City of St. Petersburg spacecraft "Kosmolyot" are stranded on the lunar surface when their craft fails. The Space Patrol launches a high-risk rescue mission, navigating treacherous lunar terrain and fighting against time. The rescue team fails to locate and secure the stranded astronauts in time resulting in the loss of half of the stranded crew.
- Alien Lifeform Contact Response (2165): The Space Patrol is summoned in response to rumors of an alien life discovery, triggered by unusual readings from a remote research outpost. A team of astrobiologists leads the mission, conducting thorough investigations to validate the claims. The team establishes that the readings are a false positive, triggered by an unexpected chemical reaction in the outpost's sensitive instruments. This incident serves as a significant learning opportunity for the Space Patrol, prompting a refinement of protocols for confirming potential alien life discoveries, with an aim to avoid undue panic and misinformation in the future.
- Counter Terrorism (2166): The "Céu Claro" research station, conducting dangerous biotechnological research, is raided by individuals attempting to steal harmful bio-material for a terrorist attack on Earth. The raid links to a separatist group in the ongoing conflict in the Republic of Cascadia on Earth. The Space Patrol dispatches a team. The mission successfully thwarts the theft, safeguards the bio-materials, and brings the raiders to justice. This mission underscores the importance of maintaining security in space to prevent terrestrial conflicts from spilling over into the space frontier.
- Mars Crime Response (2166): A particularly long dust storm on Mars drains the energy supply of the "Ukukhanya Shelter" Station, which has run out of fusion reactor fuel cartridges. Some members from Ukukhanya raid a neighboring station during the storm to steal their fusion cartridges. The Space Patrol restores the power supply of the raided station and arrests the raiders, maintaining peace and stability on Mars.
- Lunar Heritage Site Protection (2166): The Space Patrol initiates a mission to protect the lunar heritage sites, including the original Apollo landing sites, from potential vandalism. After several incidents, they install surveillance systems and establish a secure perimeter around the sites. This mission is instrumental in preserving human heritage in space for future generations.
- Protection of Space Communication (2167): A dark web organization systematically destroys communication infrastructure, including satellites, to manipulate financial markets by exploiting communication times of rerouted network traffic. The Space Patrol launches a mission that successfully counters this threat ensuring the integrity of global financial systems.
- Refugee Assistance (2167): Following a devastating meteoroid impact on the old and large lunar habitat "Tranquility Base," the Space Patrol is called to launch a crucial refugee assistance mission. The catastrophic event leaves many displaced, prompting an exodus to other lunar stations. However, these stations quickly become overwhelmed, their life support systems seriously strained by the unexpected influx of refugees. Recognizing the imminent threat this poses, the Space Patrol swiftly expands their mission parameters. They not only provide direct aid and temporary shelter to the refugees but also extend technical support to the stations receiving these refugees. This aid includes supplying additional life support resources, augmenting medical care capacities, and rapidly installing temporary habitation modules to accommodate the displaced population.
- Asteroid Defense Mission (2168): The Space Patrol, in collaboration with "AstroShield," faces a potentially catastrophic event as a 30-meter asteroid is on a collision course with Earth. Coincidentally, an asteroid mover company has several propulsion units available to correct the asteroid's trajectory. Their efforts are successful, and the asteroid is safely diverted.
- Protection of Infrastructure Assets (2168): The anti-technology terror organization "Technophage" launches an assault on Earth's sunshade, SCALE. Before the Space Patrol can respond, Technophage manages to destroy 250,000 square kilometers of the sunshade. That’s 10 % of the panels – a significant loss. The Space Patrol initiates an urgent mission to halt the destruction. The team, employing robust tactics, successfully neutralizes the threat, putting an end to Technophage's destructive campaign.
- Spacecraft Rescue Operation (2169): A perilous rescue operation is initiated when a civilian shuttle, "Astra Voyager", with 85 passengers experiences a catastrophic technical failure while entering the stratosphere on its return to Earth. With the stricken vessel rapidly descending and heating up due to atmospheric friction, the situation is rapidly escalating towards disaster. Responding to the crisis, the Space Patrol dispatches the rescue craft "LeBlanc" from high Earth orbit. The team undertakes a daring high-stakes mission at the very edge of the stratosphere. Both ships are quickly falling towards Earth, with their external temperatures skyrocketing to over 1000 degrees Celsius due to atmospheric re-entry. In an intense and precise maneuver, the LeBlanc manages to dock with the Astra Voyager, using its superior propulsion system to pull both spacecraft back into a safe orbit.
- Space Tourism Regulation (2170): As space tourism surges, the Space Patrol identifies an urgent need for increased regulation within the industry. This is driven by a rapid increase in accidents involving tourists, some of which have deadly consequences. The lack of adequate passenger care and regulatory oversight becomes evident, prompting the Space Patrol to take action. They launch an initiative focused on implementing robust safety and compliance measures for tourist organizations operating in space. These include stricter guidelines for spacecraft maintenance, mandatory emergency preparedness training for tourists, and stricter licensing requirements for space tourism operators. The Space Patrol's efforts result in a significant decrease in accidents, helping space tourism continue to thrive. The measures are enforced with the help of the insurance industry, which refuses to provide services to companies that violate the new Space Patrol protocol.