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Offline Garfunkel

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Saving humanity (dead by bug)
« on: December 30, 2015, 08:05:59 PM »


SAVING HUMANITY


Despite the lofty promises made in the Paris climate conference of 2015, very few countries actually achieved the aimed-for reduction in emissions. Growing population and the requirements of business and industry ensured that global temperature rise was not stopped - only slowed. Polar ice caps slowly kept melting, causing sea levels to rise. Extreme weather conditions became more prevalent. By 2025, when China returned humans to the Moon, the island nation of Nauru was in the process of being evacuated as its last desalination plant had been wrecked in a storm and all of its arable land submerged. The same fate awaited many other Pacific islands. Yet worse was to come.

In 2029, the doomsday scenario so often predicted struck the planet: an asteroid struck Earth. Dwindling budgets had ensured that, at no point, was the sky fully under surveillance. The asteroid Apophis had previously been ignored as calculations based on observations had made it clear that it would not hit Earth. But whether those calculations were wrong or something else had altered its course, the 350 meter asteroid landed with the biggest boom ever witnessed, touching down in the deserts of western Iraq. The impact explosion was estimated to be at 750 megatons of kinetic energy and the crater formed had a diameter of over four kilometers. Needless to say, destruction in the Middle-East was immense: Iraq, Syria, Kuwait and Jordan were wiped out as nations, with Iran, Saudi-Arabia, Lebanon, Israel and Turkey suffering immensely. While the impact was not large enough to cause a nuclear winter, the destruction of some of the more important OPEC members caused gigantic issues to international trade and commerce. Millions of people perished either in the impact or the firestorms that raged for days. Hundreds of thousands more lost their lives in the chaotic aftermath.

For six years after, most developed countries devoted significant resources to predicting further impacts but, as is human nature, their zeal cooled as no further doomsday events were found and the effects of climate change continued to exert more and more pressure.

Wars over dwindling resources, for the first time including fresh water sources, broke out depressingly often, mostly between undeveloped countries though multiple police actions were undertaken by United States, France, the United Kingdom and Russia. Modern war fully broke out in 2052 over a number of tiny islands in the South China Sea, between China on one side and the Philippines on the other. USA stepped in to protect her ally, hoping to cool things down - but the millions of Chinese peasants undertaking an exodus from the hinterlands, now facing severe desertification, pressed the Chinese leadership to escalate the conflict. Vietnam and Taiwan were embroiled in the conflict and in 2053 the USS Ronald Reagan was torpedoed north-east of Luzon. Three days later, American missiles struck command & control posts, airfields, naval ports and supply depots across the Chinese coast. By the end of the year, old and new conflicts had flared up across the globe as many leaders thought that the time was ripe for settling old grievances or gaining a bigger portion of the remaining resources. Almost inevitable, the conflict turned nuclear - first with what remained of Israel nuking Cairo in pre-emptive self-defense. Then North-Korea nuking Seoul to open the way for their reconquest of the South-Korea. When the world didn't end, both the American and Chinese leadership turned to their nuclear arsenals, in the hope of finally and decisively, ending the costly conflict. American nuke vaporized the North-Korean armoured spearhead steaming south. Chinese nuke in Ho Chi Minh City convinced the Vietnamese leadership to accept vassalization. And so it went, tit for tat, teetering on the edge of full, strategic nuclear war - miraculously averted when Moscow vanished in an atomic fireball, an act of Islamic terrorism claimed by the Liberation Front of Chechnya and Russia vowed to nuke both Washington and Beijing, certain that either power had supplied the device - both China and USA had courted Russia to join their side for years.

By the early 2060s, the various wars had largely quieted down as nation states ran out steam and the risk of complete nuclear holocaust loomed so clear in the near future. The United Nations, for decades utterly powerless, stepped back to the spotlight. During this time, most people even in academia ignored the findings of various scientific teams investigating the Apophis crater. Various unseen minerals with astonishing properties had been discovered and in 2065, the world became familiar with the Trans-Newtonian minerals. With orbital facilities completely wrecked by years of neglect and various national space programs gutted by warfare, UN proposed the creation of an international agency, to gather all former national space programs under one roof, led by technocrats from neutral nations to begin with. The climate change wasn't getting any better any time soon and while nation states could devote themselves to staving off total meltdown, the United Nations Space Administration - UNSA - would be responsible of putting Trans-Newtonian minerals into use, to either salvage the planet or find a new home for humanity.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2018, 12:38:16 PM by Garfunkel »
 

Offline Garfunkel

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Re: Saving humanity
« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2015, 08:30:30 PM »
Conventional start - 2075
UNSA - rest of Earth as "Neutral nation"

UNSA starts with 50 million population, 5 research labs, 100 construction factories, 1 military academy, 1 deep space tracking station, 5 maintenance facilities and 1 ground forces training centre.

I modified humans to only accept 20 Celsius deviation from ideal temperature - so from -6 to 34 and also reduced the gravity deviation from 0.9 to 0.8. This means that only Mars is permanently colonizable to humanity. Remember, the goal is to find a proper new home for billions of humans.

My aim is to create a story mostly with the history book approach, mixed with the occasional snippet of personal POV from individuals. Apologies for any spelling and grammar errors, English is not my native language. I'm indebted to multiple writers here who I'll try to emulate to the best of my ability. And of course Steve for making Aurora in the first place!
 

Offline Garfunkel

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Re: Saving humanity
« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2015, 09:48:20 PM »
1st of January, 2075

With great fanfare, the United Nations Space Administration came into being on this date: the result of years of negotiations, the UNSA combined the remains of NASA, ESA, JAXA and the Russian Space Program. With a hefty - though limited - funding, Chief Secretary Amber Davies assumed her duties as the one human responsible for the salvation of the entire human race. A graduate of Oxford and years of experience running various UN agencies under her belt, Ms Davies had broad shoulders to carry this gigantic burden.

"So even with all our research and funding behind you, it'll take three years to achieve any results?" Amber Davies said incredulously. She was sitting behind the mahogany desk that some unknown interior designer had deemed fit for her office. Though the table made her diminutive size even more glaringly obvious, she did expect it to give her a badly needed influx of gravitas. Which she could certainly use, staring down the egghead standing on the other side.

"Hey, we're swimming into uncharted waters here! We need some sort of an overall theory on trans-newtonian science before we can even start thinking about applying it", Billy John defended his team.

"Just as well I say. We still have loads to do to shake things down, both in the organization and out there, with manufacturing and training and all", said commodore Ashley Stevens in his utterly placid tone. Technically a civilian, as he was no longer serving any national flag, he had demanded that, for ease of organization and command, the UNSA adopt a military rank system loosely based on the Royal Navy. Even dressed in a dark blue suit as he was, Stevens had that rigidity of spine so prevalent among military leaders.

"Well, you are right with that, Commodore", Davies admitted. She sighed and dismissed them. It would take a lot of good PR to make the public swallow this pill, she mused to herself, enjoying the view of the Swiss Alps visible from her office.

The first years were a quiet period of building up the organization and the various branches. UNSA had a steady budget, paid for by UN member nations, and direct access to a number of manufacturing sites. The organization ran its own mining service and employed - directly and indirectly - thirty-five million people. Commodore Stevens formed the operational headquarters, jokingly called Mission Control, with seven offices:
  • Operations Office with Commander Austin
  • Intelligence Office with Commander Grant
  • Communications Office with Lt.Commander Sen
  • Survey Office with Commander Bailey
  • Public Affairs Office with Commander Parkin
  • Logistics Office with Commander Jenkins
  • Fighter Operations Office with Commander Barnett

Despite their titles, they were mostly originally civilians, though thanks to the decade of warfare, several had some military experience. However, the UNSA mandate was strictly civilian in nature and prohibited the Administration from any military equipment or force.

Proof of progress was made in 2076, when the first UNSA financial centre opened. Another was to opened the next year, as Secretary Davies had made financial stability of great importance. In June Commander Bailey was recognized for her efforts on forming the Survey Office with a promotion to Captain.

"I'm afraid to tell you but the tumour was indeed malignant", the doctor informed Davies. The chief secretary pinched the bridge of her nose in the only sign of visible annoyance.

"But with modern medicine, we'll start the treatment immediately and should suffer only minimal discomfort", the doctor continued.

"That's good", Davies said and killed the connection. She had work to do, now including a covert search for a suitable successor.

On 16th February UNSA announced that the teams led by Billy John had formulated a general Trans-Newtonian Theory, enabling the scientists to focus on more practical aspects enabled by the TN-minerals. This enabled UNSA to begin the complex process of upgrading factories and mines to TN-standards, massively increasing their output. On the scientific side, Ryan Young assumed control of all teams and guided them towards geological survey instruments and rudimentary gravitational sensors or GADAR, jokingly called "gaydars" by the public.

Civil war erupted in Venezuela and soon her neighbours were involved in the bloody conflict.

Early in 2079 with geological sensors and the first prototype GADAR completed, Young transferred control of UNSA research labs to Samuel Baxter, attempting to modify existing pressurized water reactors to operate with Sorium, possibly increasing their output at least ten-fold, if not more. By next spring, Baxter was successful and presented a fully working Watkins PW Reactor PB-2 to the public, though most media attention was focused on the fourth outbreak of Ebola in west Africa. Baxter kept working, now on Nuclear Thermal Engines utilizing Sorium to boost their output.

In 2081, Commander Barnett was promoted to Captain, Korea announced the annulment of the Seoul quarantine zone and UNSA team leader Baxter unveiled the prototype nuclear thermal engine. The contract to build them was awarded to Saab, who named their first model the Saab NT-25/5 engine. Research efforts were directed towards improving manufacturing process, under the watchful eye of Billy John.

Through careful diplomatic manoeuvres, Chief Secretary Davis convinced several nations to increase the UNSA manufacturing allocations. Coinciding with Billy John's improvements to construction methods, UNSA industrial output was improved significantly.

"Welcome to the cancer club commodore", Davis said with a rueful smile. The former military man had more gray than black in his hair but his impassive face remained expressionless.

"Thank you madam secretary, I have some fine company in it", he said.

At the beginning of 2085, UNSA had added the following assets:
Financial Centre x2
Construction Factory x51
Mine x11

It's financial situation was stable and both fuel and mineral stockpiles were growing steadily.
 

Offline Garfunkel

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Re: Saving humanity
« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2015, 11:53:08 AM »
1st of January, 2085

The second decade of UNSA started quietly. Upgrading the mines and factories was a long-term project that took all the resources that UNSA had. Billy John improved mining techniques, increasing mine output from 10 to 12 tons. The rate of upgrade had been improved markedly and now each batch of ten upgrades went through in less than a year. In addition, breakthroughs were made with fuel economy and weaving duranium with aluminium and steel to produce stronger hulls for future ships. As the industrial parks would be tied up for upgrade process for another year, Chief Secretary Davis announced that UNSA research efforts would be focused on the power and propulsion field for some time to come, in order to move to better engines straight away and skipping the Nuclear Thermal engines completely. Immediately, the stock price of Saab plummeted as investors were certain that the Swedish company would thus miss out on the lucrative government contracts.

By the start of 2089, the initial industrial overhaul program was successfully completed. UNSA now controlled 90 construction factories and 60 mines. Chief Secretary Davis unveiled the UNSA roadmap to Luna program, which first included setting up suitable infrastructure on Earth, secondly constructing orbital shipyards - something that science fiction authors had dreamed about for almost two centuries - and thirdly building a scientific exploration craft that would bring humans to Luna for the third time.

Amber Davis smiled as she shook hands with the local dignitaries. The heat and humidity in Guyana had to be experienced to be believed and Davis was happy she had chosen a very light dress for the occasion. Politicians from both the Caribbean Community and the Union of South American Nations were present in large numbers, to cheerily soak up the prestige of this first major UNSA installation in South-America, while the representatives of the British Commonwealth of Nations were more muted. Prime Minister Jacobs looked positively ill, Davis thought as she saw the portly man wipe his brow for the umpteenth time.

Then the countdown reached zero and a massive boom could be heard as a glimmering gem emerged from the kilometers long tunnel and was shot towards the skies, accelerated to incredible velocities and very quickly vanishing from sight. All present clapped politely. Davis signaled her assistant who in turn signaled for the car.

"Well gentlemen, this has been an absolute pleasure but duty calls. I have to be present in Spain for the foundation laying", Davis explained as she retreated into the air conditioned comfort of her private limousine. With a little luck, the super-storm in South Atlantic would have passed by so her place could follow the shortest route.


Later in the same year, Baxter introduced the Watkins PB Reactor PB-3, a 50% power output increase over the previous PB-2 reactor. The first TN-era Spaceport was constructed in the central Spanish plain, citing ease of access, good infrastructure and cheap real estate. Now with access to Low Earth Orbit reliable and cheap, the construction orbital shipyards could begin.

By the end of 2091, Baxter had cracked the secrets of Nuclear Pulse engines and as UNSA envisioned them to be the backbone of all their future craft, several contracts were handed out - Chevrolet for making two small versions and Saab for two large versions.

16th November 2092 would go down the history books as the day when Freeman Shipbuilding opened in LEO. UNSA designers had already finalized the vessel it would build - the Pathfinder class, named after classical astronomers:
Code: [Select]
Pathfinder class Geological Survey Vessel    1 000 tons     25 Crew     184 BP      TCS 20  TH 40  EM 0
2000 km/s     Armour 1-8     Shields 0-0     Sensors 1/1/0/1     Damage Control Rating 1     PPV 0
Maint Life 8.79 Years     MSP 115    AFR 8%    IFR 0.1%    1YR 3    5YR 40    Max Repair 100 MSP
Intended Deployment Time: 24 months    Spare Berths 1   

Chevrolet Small NP-40 Engine (1)    Power 40    Fuel Use 76%    Signature 40    Exp 10%
Fuel Capacity 100 000 Litres    Range 23.7 billion km   (137 days at full power)

Geological Survey Sensors (1)   1 Survey Points Per Hour

This design is classed as a Military Vessel for maintenance purposes


Shot of living quarters being constructed aboard the shipyard.

In June 2093, Nicholaus Copernicus was ready for her shakedown cruise. Freeman begun constructing Tycho Brahe.

"Commander Lundin, reporting in", the man saluted crisply, standing in attention. Commodore Stevens gave him a quick look. The man was built like a street fighter, all lean and mean. Commander Parkin would have his hands full trying to turn him into a poster boy for recruitment, Stevens thought wryly.

"Okay Lundin, you know the deal, we've gone over this a thousand times. Let me just stress once more that UNSA cannot afford a catastrophe of any sort. Fly to the damn moon, prove that our tech works, survey it and come back. No heroics, no adventures, you hear me?" The commodore stressed.

"Yes sir, loud and clear. I fully understand my mission", Lundin responded. Stevens nodded at him.
"Then we're done here. Go to your ship and congratulations - if all goes well, your crew will be the first humans stepping on other planets", the commodore added. Lundin's eyes grew in size and he gave his superior officer a questioning look.
"Yes, Chief Secretary Davis has approved landings as part of future survey missions", Stevens confirmed.


Commander Lundin, the captain of Copernicus proved skeptics and critics wrong when his vessel, traveling at 2000 kilometres per second, reached Luna in three minutes. Anti-climatically, the single survey sensor required that the ship remained on Luna for over five days. Returning to Earth with the information that Luna indeed housed more TN-minerals, the ship and especially its captain, became the darlings of media and the public.

  • Duranium 739 206. Acc: 0.9
  • Corbomite 50 990. Acc: 0.4
  • Uridium 458 911. Acc: 0.6

UNSA Survey Mission #1 was launched, taking advantage of the positions of various comets in the inner Sol system. Copernicus would rendezvous with the comet Rheinmuth, then head to Mercury and Venus, the comets Whipple and Machholz, survey Ceres and lastly, on its way home, take care of Mars and its two tiny moons. The mission was planned to take mere 37 days.

The mission was a great success. While Mercury was devoid of TN-minerals, other bodies were not. Venus had immense quantities of several minerals but with extremely limited accessibility. Mars had large quantities of four minerals but most importantly, Duranium was easily mined there as on Luna. Ceres had some Mercanium while the comets had small quantities of multiple minerals. All in all, Chief Secretary Davis had reason to be happy: her Back to Moon program had been a success and had paved the way for the first Survey Mission. Commander Lundin was awarded the Survey Star and his crew enjoyed a week of furlough before undertaking UNSA Survey Mission #2, this time under the command of Commander Gemma Barton. Lundin was appointed as the leader of UNSA Close Survey Mission.

UNSA Survey Mission #2 had the aim of surveying the gas giant Jupiter and all of its moons. First it would drop off the UNSA-CSM to Luna. In mere 85 hours, the Copernicus reached the gas giant, having travelled over 600 million kilometres. By early September, while the CSM was still busy on Luna, SM-2 was completed. While planetary scientists were ecstatic that their hypothesis of it being possible for gas giants to host Sorium in a gaseous form was confirmed, only two Jovian moons had any TN-minerals and both in very limited numbers. Commodore Stevens was happier over the fact that Copernicus had performed this extended survey mission reliably, having only spent 6% of its fuel load. Thus Survey Mission #3 was authorized to take place immediately, with the aim of surveying the asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars.

Just before the year ended, CSM found Vendarite on Luna. Having finished the close survey, the mission was transferred to Mars. In the spring of 2094, they concluded that the Red Planet hosted no addition minerals and moved to Venus. Throughout, the SM-3 was busy going through the asteroid field.

In March, Tycho Brahe (Commander Kian Hughes) and Johannes Keppler (Commander Stephen Grant) were rolled out. As Commander Grant had been the head of the Intelligence Office for Fleet HQ, Lieutenant Commander Olivia Gilver was appointed to follow him. With the addition of to more ships, Commodore Stevens and his Operations officer, Commander Austin, reorganized things. Copernicus now formed the USNA Asteroid Survey Mission whereas the two new ships formed the UNSA Deep Survey Mission, to be sent to the outer system starting with Saturn. Stevens reasoned that if anything bad happened in the outer systems, the vessels could help each other even if Earth was too far.

Chief Secretary Davis ruled that no further Pathfinder class vessels would be constructed.

Engineers mate, second class, Ernst Hauser was bored out of his mind watching the engine displays. They never showed any problems whatsoever. For months, as the Copernicus surveyed the asteroid field, Hauser had spend four hours of each day staring at the displays. Not once had the needles gone outside the green zone. So boring. What harm could it be if he closed his eyes for few moments? The Chief Warrant Officer wouldn't wander to this little nook by accident. Having convinced himself, Hauser leaned his head against a bulkhead and near instantly fell asleep.

"So you're telling me that our engine nearly exploded, causing us to be stranded in space, because you Hauser wanted a little nap", Commander Barton asked icily. Hauser looked thoroughly miserable, flanked by the red-faced Chief Warrant Officer on one side and the pale-faced Engineering Lieutenant on the other. None of the three men dared to look in her eyes.

"Are the three of you aware that a single Pathfinder is worth 184 megacredits? And that our engine alone is worth twenty? Tell me Hauser, how long would it take you to pay the UNSA back twenty megacredits?" Barton asked, her voice rising dangerously.

"Uh, I don't know ma'am", Hauser stuttered out.

"Well luckily for you, the Chief managed to use the emergency shutdown and now, instead of replacing an engine, we'll just have to replace a fifth of our maintenance supplies. When we return to Earth, you will face a disciplinary committee. Dismissed", Barton angrily finished.



In June 2094 the CSM moved from Venus to Ceres, having discovered additional ten million tons of Neutronium and in August the DSM switched from Saturnus system to Uranus system. In November, DSM finished with Uranus and after a refueling at Earth, moved to Neptune system and in December CSM came up empty handed with Ceres and was moved to Mercury to double check that it was empty.

Thus the second decade of USNA was mostly of peaceful construction and building, ending with 18 months of exciting survey work.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2016, 04:55:17 PM by Garfunkel »
 

Offline Garfunkel

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Re: Saving humanity
« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2016, 07:42:50 PM »
1st of January, 2095

The third decade of UNSA started with UNSA Close Survey Mission moving to Mercury and Freeman Shipbuilding adding a fourth slipway. In April, UNSA celebrated the opening of its first commercial shipyard, the Hama Heavy Construction. UNSA designers were still working on finalizing a proper freighter blueprints, so Hama focused on growth. In May, UNSA-CSM completed survey of Mercury, finding no additional minerals and was moved by the UNSA-ASM to check Deimos and Phobos, which were confirmed to be devoid of TN-minerals. Next, Themisto and Lysithea, two moons of Jupiter.


Davis watched as the coffin was lowered into the ground. She had made a short speech, honoring Commander Gemma Barton and her survey achievements leading the Asteroid Survey Mission. It was a bitter blow, having lost one of her foremost survey experts in a senseless accident, but such were the quirks of an uncaring Universe. Now she had to appoint a successor. Commodore Stevens had nominated Commander Anthony Austin for the post and Davis had no objections - the man was famous for his super-human focus on the job, though Stevens was sorry to see him leave the Headquarters staff. Lieutenant Commander Elise Bevan, fresh off the Academy, became the new HQ Operations Officer. Davis looked around as she made her way back to the car - the sunshine and blue sky seemed incongruent on such a sad day.


On 26th August, the Deep Survey Mission returned to Earth. For a year, the two ships and their crews had laboured in the far reaches of the Solar system. Only Orcus, Haumea, Makemake, Sedna and Eris remained unsurveyed and there was some argument whether surveying them was economical at all, considering the distances. Commodore Stevens approved a mission to survey Orcus and Haumea after the ships were overhauled and the crew had some well earned rest. Whether further missions would be launched depended on the overall fuel situation. Commander Stephen Grant (Tycho Brahe) and Commander Kian Hughes (Johannes Kepler) were awarded the Survey Star for their efforts.

In August 2096, Billy John's team made advances in computational technology and modeling, increasing significantly the research efforts of UNSA. Samuel Baxter took over the labs to figure out a safe and efficient method of handling cargo, both in zero-G and inside gravity wells. By September 2097, the outer system was fully surveyed aside from Sedna and Eris. Commodore Stevens ruled them out as the distances involved were just too large for the Pathfinders without refueling tricks and it was unlikely that either dwarf planet would yield sufficient TN-minerals for exploitation to be practical. The UNSA Deep Survey Mission came to an end. Johannes Kepler formed the Asteroid Survey Mission 2 while Tycho Brahe formed the Asteroid Survey Mission 3.

In October, Commander Bethany Pool assumed command of the first freighter floating off Hama Heavy Construction: Capella would form the vanguard of UNSA cargo lifting capacity for years to come:

Code: [Select]
Cargo class Freighter    31 900 tons     107 Crew     354.5 BP      TCS 638  TH 320  EM 0
501 km/s     Armour 1-89     Shields 0-0     Sensors 1/1/0/0     Damage Control Rating 1     PPV 0
MSP 7    Max Repair 32 MSP
Intended Deployment Time: 3 months    Spare Berths 0   
Cargo 25000    Cargo Handling Multiplier 25   

Saab Large NP-160 Engine (2)    Power 160    Fuel Use 4.05%    Signature 160    Exp 4%
Fuel Capacity 200 000 Litres    Range 27.8 billion km   (643 days at full power)

Marconi NavDar 10.5 (1)     GPS 1000     Range 5.0m km    Resolution 100

This design is classed as a Commercial Vessel for maintenance purposes

During March 2097, the fuel situation became critical and all survey missions had to be put on hold. For now, only Capella was allowed to sail, as it hauled infrastructure to Mars for the upcoming Martian colony. Administrator Davis was furious, as the UNSA industrial build plan had completely neglected fuel refineries.

In June 2098, the CSM finished with Titan, again turning up empty-handed. The team was disbanded.

The groundwork for the Martian Experimental Colony was finished in 2100, amid muted celebrations welcoming the beginning of a new century, but it took until November 2101 before the first colony ship was launched by Nelson Freight Services. This was a conscious decision by Administrator Amber Davies, who wanted to stimulate the ailing economy. UNSA would not get involved in transportation of humans in large numbers - this was something that the mass transit companies, airlines and space tourism firms were better suited for. Nelson FS was the first to answer this call. Already, civilian mining complex had been established on Luna:



By mid-2102, her decisions was proven right. Nelson FS and Jakobbson Shipping & Logistics made a tidy profit transporting colonists to Earth while Briggs Shipping Company carried further infrastructure that national governments and private enterprises built on Earth, without UNSA having to meddle in the process at all. Mars had grown to 2.75 million inhabitants and its domes kept growing.

The third decade of United Nations Space Administration thus went peacefully. The Solar system was largely surveyed, the experimental Martian colony was booming and larger than many cities on Earth, the commercial sector was now firmly involved in space and UNSA was improving its capabilities.
 

 

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