Around the turn of the century, the exploration, colonization and eventual exploitation of outer space began to take shape. The leader in this movement was the United States, until the second civil war brought its space program to a crashing halt. Meanwhile, the European Space Agency, Brazil, Indonesia, Japan and to a small extent Russia, either expanded their space programs or unveiled new ones. Spurred on by dwindling natural resources, several international corporations started looking to the sky as their next source of raw materials.
Now, in 2030, there are numerous orbiting manufacturing stations, massive L-5 colonies, a permanent moonbase, as well as bases on Mars, Io and the asteroids. It would seem only a matter of time before an expedition is launched that will carry man to another star system.
L-5 Colonies: There are currently two in existence, located between the Earth and the Moon at Lagrange points 4 and 5. The colonies are enormous cylinders about the same size as Serendipity. Both primarily serve to process ores brought back from the asteroid belts.
The Moon: This is a international (and multi-corporate) support base for expeditions to the asteroid belt (and beyond). Located underground (as protection against micrometeorites and similar 'accidents'), the only surface structures are several viewing domes, base entrances and shuttle launch facilities. There is also an immense mass driver used to launch payloads into Earth orbit or out to the asteroids.
Mars: There is a very large agricultural colony located here, set under thick reinforced domes. Utilizing water melted from sub-surface ices, high-density hydroponics and plants engineered to be cold resistant, Mars provides food for the Asteroid Belt and beyond. Producing primarily algae and yeast based food products, the Mars base is heavily automated, with a large cyberdroid population. As with the moon base, a mass driver (utilizing Mons Olympus for the parabolic end) launches payloads to desired destinations.
Asteroid Belt: Using small ships carrying a crew of two to four, corporate miners scout likely asteroids, mark them and have a mass driver shuttle push the rock back to a processing station. Mass driver shuttles use the asteroid itself as 'fuel' to set up a action reaction process to shove the chunk of rock around. Belters use LandMate-like vehicles for EVA.
Outer system stations:
There is an extensive mining station on Io. The primary resource is petrochemicals and similar compounds. A small research station in orbit around Triton.
Getting off planet: Almost all shuttle stations on Earth are located on the equator, or very near to it. This makes for a shorter and much easier flight, as the weather is very predictable.
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