On the Shoulders of Giants

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Warringer, Jun 16, 2012.

  1. Warringer

    Warringer Goto Wogon for Hard SciFi

    AN: Due to several requests after posting Rapture, I hereby post the 'On the Shoulders of Giants' timeline.

    And yes, I am aware that some people dislike timelines.


    August 4, 1969

    In the wake of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing and the national high, closer examination of images from Mars, send back to Earth by Mariner 6, reveal something unusual.

    On the image taken on the closest approach, west of the largest crater on the image, later known as Flaugergues Crater, a dark blot can be seen. But since the resolution of the TV image is not the best, there can only be speculation about this about seven times five kilometer large spot.

    But does not present much of a problem, as Mariner 8 and 9 are scheduled to launch in May 1971.

    September 1969

    While the Mariner 6 images are in circulation, some people begin to openly speculate about the existence of an alien city on Mars. This creates huge waves, especially considering the Moon Landing.

    A direct result of this media echo to a small blot on a low resolution image is that a group of scientists found the Mars Society, trying to promote manned missions to Mars to uncover its secrets.

    The postulated ‘martian city’ becomes known as ‘Bradbury City’, after Ray Bradbury speculated about it in a New York Times interview.

    The public discussion about martian cities and manned missions to Mars causes President Richard Nixon to need more time to make a decision about the future of Mars. However, he does ask NASA to land a probe on Mars, should there turn out to be an alien city.

    October 1969

    NASA begins to renew work on the Voyager program, designed to bring an orbiter/lander combination to Mars and do a soft landing.

    October 1970

    Representatives from NASA and the USSR Academy of Sciences met in Moscow to discuss the possibility of a joint piloted space mission, the Apollo-Sojuz Test Program.

    May 1971

    Mariner 9 launches, after Mariner 8 was destroyed earlier in May.

    The Soviet Union launched the Mars 2 and 3 probes to Mars.

    October 1971

    Just a month before Mariner 9 enters Martian orbit, a NASA task force, including Werner von Braun, begin to story a manned mission to Mars, partially based on the 1969 von Braun Mars mission.

    November 1971

    Mariner 9 and Mars 2 enter Martian orbit.

    However a massive sandstorm covers nearly the entire planet, making the mapping mission harder.

    The Soviet probe launches a lander, but it is lost due to a reentry problem, becoming the first man made object to impacting on Mars.

    December 1971

    Mars 3 enters Martian orbit and launches a lander.

    After a soft touchdown on Mars the lander begins to transmit, but the transmission stops after 15 seconds.

    JPL begins to work on the Voyager 1 and 2 probes.

    January 1972

    Mariner 9 begins to take images of the Martian surface.

    February 2, 1972

    Mariner 9 returns an image everyone at JPL has waited for is transmitted back to Earth, displaying an area west of Flaugergues Crater. Some NRO specialists on orbital imaging are called in to take a closer look at the structures that previously were only a small dark dot on the Mariner 6 image.

    Due to a stroke of luck, the approach of the Flaugergues Crater area had been near the perapsis and the resolution of the image is about 200 meters per pixel.

    The dark blot turns out to be extremely regular in its structure, appearing to be too regular to be natural.

    February 1972

    Many news papers title ‘Martian City discovered’ or ‘Bradbury City real’ as the images are released.

    While there are talks that those images are a hoax, the Soviet Union squashes most of those voices, when they announce that they will send a man to Mars. The Soviets pull out of the proposed Apollo-Soyuz Test Program.

    NASA decides that it is better if the Voyager 1 and 2 landers are equipped with RTG units for power generation to get a longer mission time.

    Meanwhile NASA put together a the Mars Exploration Group to begin working on designs for manned and unmanned Mars missions.

    March 1972

    President Nixon, who is fighting to be reelected as President of the United States, tries to get the public eye away from the Vietnam war and talks about withdrawal and openly talks about increasing the NASA budget to send the first men to Mars.

    May 1972

    Congress and Senate follow through with Nixons promise, increasing the NASA budget to 6 billion US dollar for the next three years. At the same time Department of Energy and NASA are given permission for an operational test of the NERVA engine system in space.

    The reason is simple and many politicians see it. If ‘Bradbury City’ really turns out to be an alien city, they cannot allow the Soviets to take control over it and any alien technologies in it by landing there first.

    July 1972

    With the decision to go to Mars, NASA realizes that they can’t get there with only the Space Shuttle, which is still in Phase B since there has previously not been any decision on whether to realize the Space Shuttle or to focus on Space Stations.

    As such the decision is made to follow up on the Boeing Grumman Space shuttle design, the H33, in combination with a reusable version of the Boeing S-IC rocket stage, called B-18, which can land under its own power.

    At the same time, Boeing announces that they will ensure full compatibility of the B-18 with the S-IC, so that it can be used with the North American build S-II stage.

    Apollo 17 is canceled as NASA needs a Saturn V for the delivery for the Voyager 1 and 2 probes to Mars.

    The Skylab mission is extended and modified to be used to develop the long term habitation technologies needed to fly to Mars.

    October 1972

    The DoE and NASA begin to work on a 50 percent scale version of the NERVA engine that is projected to be used on a manned Mars mission to fit in an Saturn IB as payload for late 1973.

    At the same time an engineer comes up with the idea of a ‘bimodal NERVA’ engine, using the already existing NERVA engine and combining it with a Brayton cycle system to create power with the nuclear reactor the NERVA is in the end. Another idea that appears is an oxygen ‘afterburner’ to increase the thrust of the NERVA engine.

    November 1972

    Richard Nixon is re-elected as President of the United States.

    December 1972

    The DoE publishes a study on the bimodal NERVA engine with a modified Primary Propulsion Module (PPE) from a 1968 study. It incorporates a small liquid oxygen tank and boasts an increased and more important variable thrust with the liquid oxygen ‘afterburner’.

    NASA decides to further develop the PPE for testing in the late 70s.

    February 1973

    Integration of a Saturn V without upper stage carrying Skylab begins at the same time as the integration of a conventional Saturn V carrying Voyager 1 and 2.

    May 15, 1973

    Skylab launches. The insufficiently fastened external solar/meteoroid shield is ripped off the station during ascent, destroying one of the stations two solar panels in the process.

    May 25, 1973
    A Saturn IB with the Skylab 2 mission launches to Skylab with the aim of repairing the station and making it livable.

    May 26 to June 5, 1973

    The crew of Skylab 2 tries to repair the station, but even repeated EVAs of Paul Weitz fail to be successful in releasing the stations single remaining solar sail. Even as they manage to deploy a parasol to cool down the station’s interior, without energy its impossible to do any work on the station. The mission is aborted on June 6 and the crew returns to Earth.

    July 21 to 25, 1973

    NASA and the Soviets launch four probes towards Mars, each equipped with a single lander.

    Even if launched between the two Soviet probes Mars 4 and Mars 5, Voyager 1 and 2 will arrive at Mars earlier as their Launch Vehicle, the Saturn V, allows a higher energetic trajectory towards Mars.

    August 1973

    The Skylab 3 mission launches in early August on a mission to try and salvage Skylab. Three EVAs are made by Owen Garriott and Jack Lousma to try and once again get the solar sail to unfold. As it remains stuck, they try something else, connecting the energy systems of the solar telescope with the station through the small airlock where the parasol is unfolded. While it does provide the station with energy, it is too little to be of any use.

    The Skylab 3 mission is aborted in late August. Following the failure of this mission to repair Skylab, the station is abandoned as Skylab 4 and Skylab 5 are canceled.

    NASA decides to send up Skylab B, modified using the knowledge gained from the disaster that was Skylab. It will also include an extension of the living space by opening the common bulkhead between the former S-IV stages hydrogen and oxygen tanks.

    October 1973

    Skylab B is renamed to Spacelab by NASA. Later that month McDonnell Douglas is asked to draw up plans for a combined dry/wet workshop, using the original Skylab module in combination with the Douglas build Saturn S-II stage to increase living and working space on board the next space station.

    Another decision is t o modify the Apollo Service Module to take on multiple mission modules and reduce its delta v as a result. But as it does not need to return to the Moon, that is not seen as a problem and allows consumables to be transported to a space station as a stopgap measure before the Space Shuttle can launch towards a space station.

    February 2, 1974

    Within four hours Voyager 1 and 2 reach Mars and enter an orbit. Subsequent correction burns bring both probes into a 1800 x 2560 km orbit around the planet.

    February 4, 1974

    Voyager 1 is the first to reach a position where the Voyager 1 lander can land near the presumed alien city. The reentry happens without a problem and Voyager 1 is the second probe to land on Mars successfully. And the first to continue operating for more than a few seconds.

    It begins to transmit images nearly immediately. While the first images do not show much, safe for technical data to calibrate them, the next images are what confirms the existence of alien life. Or rather the remains thereof.

    It appears that Voyager 1 managed to softly land within a large park like area, surrounded by the ruins of what appear to be large buildings.

    February 5, 1974

    Voyager 2 reaches a position where the lander can be released to land in the alien city.

    The lander manages to do a soft landing, however where it lands is not fully stable. As the first images and data returns to Earth, the probe is tilted by nearly 60 degrees and while one camera can see a good part of the surroundings, the second camera can only see the inside of what appears to be a large room. Apparently the Voyager 2 lander landed on top of a larger building that partially collapsed when the probe landed on it.

    The first images from the room, confirm that, yes, there is indeed an alien city on Mars. An alien city that is largely destroyed due to unknown means.

    February 6, 1974

    The JPL releases the first images of the alien city to the public.

    While there are still people who call it a hoax, most people fall into two camps. Those fearing what the alien city represents and those that see the alien city as a chance for the future.

    February 10, 1974

    Mars 4 reaches Mars, but due to a flaw in a computer chip and its degeneration during the voyage to Mars, it fails to enter orbit. It does however return images and data on a Martian inonosphere.

    February 12, 1974

    Mars 5 reaches Mars and successfully enters orbit.

    February 13, 1974

    Mars 5 releases a lander identical to the Mars 2 and 3 landers to land in the alien city. By chance the Voyager 2 lander is able to catch the final descent of the Mars 5 lander and the subsequent failure of its parachute. The Mars 5 landers engines are not powerful enough to provide a soft landing and is destroyed on impact into one of the larger alien structures.

    February 1974

    With the discovery that ‘Bradbury City’ is real, the alien city and images from Voyager 1 and 2 are all over the news, all but drowning out most other things, especially anything related to Watergate.

    However it does nothing to return trust into Nixon.

    Meanwhile most religions try to get the alien city and the proof about alien life to fit into their world view and presenting more questions. Questions people want to have answered.

    Others are fears. Not necessarily about the aliens, their city has been destroyed for a long time and they have not yet returned to reclaim it, not does it look like they would return to it.

    Rather both the United States and the Soviet Union fear that the other lands on Mars first to claim the city. And with it potentially very advanced technologies that could be turned into weapons and sweep away the Status Quo.

    With this information, Senate and Congress increase the NASA budget to 10 billion Dollar, while NASA prepares another set of Voyager probes, this time with more equipment to explore the alien city.

    In the Soviet Union the N-1 rocket finally launches successfully, delivering a large reconnaissance satellite into orbit.

    March 1974

    The Soviet Union and a number of client nations leave the Outer Space Treaty, in theory giving them the ability to claim extraterrestrial real estate. It is obvious that they intend to claim Mars and the alien city once they manage to land on the red planet.

    As a result and in delicious irony, as Kissinger will later call it, the United States accuse the Soviet Union of Imperialism. Documents released in the early 21st century makes this a double irony, as the United States have thought about doing the same.

    Now however the United States decide to take a different approach. Secret talks with other NATO countries are undertaken, planning how to best approach the problem of a possible Soviet Landing on Mars, as any weapon technology discovered on Mars could in fact end the Status Quo in the favor of the nation possessing it.

    Due to delays in the final integration progress, the Daedalus stage, intended to test a 50 percent scale model of the NERVA engine in space is delivered to Cape Kennedy where it is prepared for final integration into a Saturn IB.

    April 1974

    The European Launch Development Organization and the European Space Research Organization are merged together by their member nations, forming ESA with nine founder nations, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

    The merger was mostly done to combine the efforts of the NATO member nations, however Switzerland decides to get along for the ride, even if only by providing funds.

    The Guiana Space Centre becomes the primary space port for ESA after France offers its use.

    May 1974

    The United States officially invite other nations to take part in the effort to bring men to Mars and to deny the sole access to the alien city to the Soviets. However NASA expects that any nation wanting into to be able to pull their own weight.

    As one of the first official acts the new ESA director asks the US about taking part in the Mars mission.

    June 1974

    The Saturn IB with the Daedalus stage is brought to Launch Pad 39B, where it is launched into a 240 x 500 km orbit at 28 degrees inclination. The initial launch is flawless and all instruments of the stage transmit telemetry and receive commands. No radiation anomalies are reported during launch or near the Launch Pad.

    Four days after the launch the control drums of the engines nuclear reactor are turned so that a nuclear reaction can start. Several minutes later the pumps are started to begin an engine burn. As it is intended to test multiple starts of the nuclear engine, the burn should have only lasted ten seconds, however the increased radiation of the active engine has resulted in problems in the engine controls. The pumps do not stop and the control drums can’t be turned back to ‘turn off’ the engine. As a result the burn lasts for three minutes, with just enough delta-v to make the Daedalus stage enter a heliocentric orbit. And since the control drums are not reacting the reactor melts two days after the initial burn.

    NASA notes that they are lucky that the Daedalus is on a heliocentric trajectory at that moment and unlikely to endanger anyone on Earth for the near to medium future. NASA and the DoE begin construction of a second Daedalus stage for testing.

    August 1974

    Large scale construction begins at the Guiana Space Centre and several dozen kilometers south of the town of Kourou.

    The construction south of Kourou happens to be a French 3000 MW nuclear power plant to ensure the independence of French Guiana from coal power and coal imports from the United States.

    In Baikonur, the Soviet Union begins to build two more N-1 rockets.

    September 1974

    NASA launches Spacelab. Like the Skylab launch, Spacelab has its own set of problems as the Saturn V begins to go into pogo oscillations sixty seconds into the flight. Turning off the middle engine of the Saturn V however solves the problem. Other problems are of smaller nature and the launch if Spacelab is considered to be a success.

    The Spacelab 2 mission launches three days later on a Saturn IB and successfully docks with Spacelab. As it turns out the pogo oscillations caused some instruments to be ripped from their mountings and floated inside the station, so the first few days were needed to clean up the station. After that Spacelab 2 resumes without a problem and the crew returns after 48 days in orbit.

    November 1974

    ESA surprises NASA and the United States with the request to purchase three B-18 reusable S-IC stages and two H33 space shuttles. As a direct offer NASA is informed that ESA is already building a Vertical Assembly Building capable of building a Saturn V and a future Saturn V/R, based on the B-18, as well as three launch complexes for launching both the Space Shuttle and
    the Saturn V/R.

    ESA will also develop a native heavy launch second stage for the B-18 to be able to launch larger payloads into space.

    December 1974

    The Soviet Union launches Salyut 4 on a single N-1 rocket. Salyut 4 is an enlarged version of previous Salyut stations obviously designed for long term habitation and to test deep space modularity as it is equipped with multiple docking ports and other systems.

    February 1975

    After several month of negotiations between NASA, the US DoD, NATO and ESA, ESA is granted permission to buy three Boeing B-18 reusable S-IC stages and two Boeing-Grumman H33 Space Shuttles, as well as information needed to develop their own heavy launch second stage for the B-18.

    In return NASA and the US DoD get full rights to launch missiles from the Guiana Space Centre. ESA is also expected to become a full partner in the Mars mission and provide more than just scientific instruments and astronauts.

    March 1975

    NASA and ESA begins to design a Mars mission, tentatively named Ares. However it is expected that the name of the mission changes.

    Wernher von Braun is part of the design team.

    The Soviets being to add a second module to Salyut 4 and begin to keep it permanently manned.

    April 1975

    NASA begins final integration of two Saturn V, intended to launch not two, but four Voyager probes to Mars. Two of the probes include a tethered balloon with a camera to provide aerial images of the ruins of ‘Bradbury City’.

    May 1975

    Closer examination of images of the Voyager 2 lander probe from inside the building it landed on, reveal what appears to be a skeleton. This sparks speculation about what happened in the city and how the skeleton could even exist on Mars. It would only exist if there would be biologic life on Mars, aside from the aliens.

    However no image from either probe lander contains anything that would indicate life as we know it. And no probe contains instruments to search for life, nor do the Voyager 3 to 6 probes.

    The skeleton itself is only partially visible on the images, but what it shows does not give any information about it, not the creature it does belong to. Only that it is a skeleton.

    August 1975

    For the first time NASA launches two Saturn V rockets within one week, sending four Voyager probes towards Mars in late August.

    September 1975

    The Soviet Union launches an N-1 rocket with two large probes to Mars in early September.

    October 1975

    McDonnell Douglas unveils the Space Base module, a wet/dry workshop based on combining the dry workshop of Skylab/Spacelab with a wet workshop of a Saturn S-II stage. It includes a multi adaptor on top, able to dock with the existing Spacelab, multiple more Space Base modules, Apollo CSMs or a shuttle or even two. Two large solar sails will provide energy for the station and additional micrometeorite and sun shields were added.

    It will be ready to be launched at the end of the following year.

    November 1975

    Norway, Portugal and Luxembourg enter ESA as full partners. Incidentally they are three NATO members that were not yet members of ESA.

    Around the same time NASA and ESA present the first plans for the Athena mission, named after the Greek goddess of wisdom, warfare, battle strategy, heroic endeavour, handicrafts and reason, all characteristics for the astronauts that will be selected for the mission.

    It is different to most previous Mars mission proposals. For one is depends on the combined work of ESA and NASA, and includes the establishment of a permanently manned Mars base to provide the chance for in situ research on the alien city.

    Three nuclear powered ships are planned to be used on the Athena mission. Two are going to be manned and the last unmanned.

    The unmanned ship will carry a module for the Mars base with it, protected by a biconic reentry shield and equipped with parachutes and rocket engines for a soft landing. However current technology only allow a remote landing after the crewed landers have touched down.

    Both manned ships will carry a crew module, one built by NASA and one by ESA, and a single lander with return-to-orbit stage, both built by NASA.

    Aside from the payload all three ships will be similar. Four bimodal LANTR engines connected to a central main tank, build by NASA, and up to four jettisonable external hydrogen tanks, build and delivered into orbit by ESA.

    To test the entire rocket stage, the unmanned ship will fly to Mars before the actually planned mission, delivering a single Mars Base module into orbit, before returning to Earth to be refueled and send to Mars again with the manned ships and twelve astronauts, six NASA and six ESA astronauts.

    After reaching Mars, the second Mars Base module will undock from the unmanned ship which will return to Earth immediately, while both landers land near the alien city to prepare the landing of the Base modules, which are landed from the ground via remote control.

    Both Base modules will be connected, providing shelter and lab space for six people over two years. It will still need to be determined how to feed the research crew and how to provide more space, but NASA and ESA are sure to be able to come up with a solution.

    After fifty days on the surface, six astronauts will return to one of the waiting ships and to Earth where the ship will be refueled and together with the unmanned ship fly to Mars again. The ship remaining in Mars orbit will provide the research crew with a way to return home should the need arise, as it will be fueled enough to make a return on most high energy orbits, if needed even with a Venus gravity assist.

    Back on Mars the new crew will replace the old crew, who will return to Earth in the second ship which was left in Mars orbit, and add another Base module.

    It is expected that the Athena mission can be launched by 1983, while the unmanned ship will provide the needed test for all critical mission systems for the way to Mars, while the crew modules can be tested in Earth orbit.

    Another additional plan includes the possibility of using one of the martian moons as docking station for the ships.

    January 1976

    A Soviet N-1 rocket lifts a large scale venus probe, Venera 11, into Earth orbit. Venera 11 is equipped with a high powered radar system to map the surface and three landers. To get the probe on a trajectory towards Venus it is equipped with a prototype RD-0410 NTP engine. After two experimental burns, the probe takes a longer burn that propels it into a high energy trajectory towards Venus.

    The successful launch and burn of Venera 11 are seen as a major step towards a Soviet manned Mars mission.

    At the same time NASA/ESA confirms that they will purchase the Athena mission to Mars.

    February 1976

    For the first time in years, NASA can build new Saturn V rockets again and use them on future missions. It happens earlier than expected and there are more than a few people in NASA who think that it was wrong to cancel Apollo 17.

    Around the same time, NASA presents the Saturn IC, using a new first stage of a more conventional design that is equipped with a single F-1A engine. Crysler, the manufacturer of the S-IB-2 stage think that they will be able to build a S-IB-3 stage with a F-1A derived pressure fed engine to simplify the design and make recovering of the S-IB-3 stage possible.

    North American Aviation, working together with BAC, also present a study of an Apollo derived reusable 5 man spacecraft. The reason for this study is that there are times when people need to be put into space without needing the full capacity of a Space Shuttle. The capsule, equipped with solar sails as energy supply and capable of 750 m/s delta v, can also be used as free flying laboratory independent from a space station and lifeboat for a space station. It is tentatively named Hermes.

    March 1976

    ESA announces the development of the Ariane Heavy Lift Stage for the B-18. Powered by eight Viking 2 engines it is nearly as powerful as the S-II stage of NASA.

    April 1976

    Venera 11 enters Venus orbit after a successful burn of its nuclear engine and drops three landers into the atmosphere of the planet. The Soviet Union is very forthcoming with their results about their Venus landings and the three hour activity of the Venera 11-3 lander.

    However after Venera 11 entered orbit and began to photograph and map the planet with a high powered radar system, a large shape drifted into its radar path. Analysis of photographic and radar data comes to the conclusion that a derelict alien spaceship orbits around Venus. Using its radar systems Venera 11 is able to track the derelict and map its orbit, allowing them to rendezvous with it on a later date.

    May 1976

    NASA loses contact to Voyager 3. It’s landers was one of two carrying a balloon for aerial photographs of Bradbury City.

    June 5, 1976

    The crew of Spacelab hears a loud banging sound and experience a sudden loss of atmosphere. With the first thought of a hull breach of Spacelab, the crew tries to get into their Apollo capsule, only to discover that there is a hull breach on the capsule. Only the quick acting of mission commander Michael Collins saves the crew's lives.

    Collins does an EVA later that day through the stations airlock and takes a closer look at the Apollo CSM. A piece of debris has hit the capsule, punching not only one, but two holes into the capsule. One near one of the windows and one clear through the reentry shield.

    Thankfully the crew has enough supplies for several more month until NASA can find a way to get them home.

    It drives home the need for something akin to the North American/BAC Hermes.

    June 1976

    NASA and ESA award North American Aviation and BAC with a contract to fully develop the Hermes spacecraft in the wake of the Spacelab 5 accident. It is expected that the Hermes can make its first unmanned flights in late 1979.

    July 1976

    Based on the 1970 study of an Apollo Rescue CSM, Spacelab 6 is equipped with two additional crew couches and launched towards Spacelab. Spacelab 5 commander exits prior to the docking of Spacelab 6 and undocks the damages Apollo manually and steers it away from the station, before programming a main engine burn that will make Spacelab 5 enter the atmosphere and burn up. He is then picked up by Spacelab 6 before returning to Spacelab. Now with five astronauts, the Spacelab 6 mission continues for two more weeks, before all five astronauts return to Earth.

    It is the first time that more than four astronauts have been in space at the same time.

    August 1976

    Voyager 4, 5 and 6 enter Mars orbit and deploy three landers.

    The Voyager 4 and 5 landers make a soft landing, however the Voyager 6 lander crashes into a building on decent and transmits images for thirty minutes before going silent.

    Voyager 4 and 5 however begin to provide high quality images and other data from their landing sites in Bradbury City, while Voyager 4 returns the first aerial images of the alien city. The images show that there was some sort of dome spanning over the city, based on large walls and beams sticking into the air. However there is nothing seen of this dome anymore.

    A common theory is that the dome was built from materials that eventually experienced complete structural collapse and that the entire dome was destroyed, explaining the destruction of large parts of the city and killed all life in it by exposing it to the Martian atmosphere.

    Another less common and not very logical theory is that the city was protected by a force field dome that collapsed after its energy source went offline and then killed all life in the city. That does not explain the damage to the buildings however.

    September 1976

    The last ten minutes of video images of Voyager 6 are analyzed. The probe had been able to look through an open window in the building it collided with and filmed flickering lights of different colors inside the building. Its the first sign of activity in Bradbury City.

    Some hope that its survivors in hidden bunkers underground scavenging the debris in the city, while other see it as a sure sign of a still active energy supply somewhere that supplies some sort of computer or something along that line.

    Late September 1976

    The two Soviet Mars probes Mars 6 and 7 enter orbit of Mars in late September. Two landers and launched towards Mars and Bradbury City. Designed akin to the later series Luna probes, both landers manage to do a soft landing. One lands within visual distance of Voyager 5, while the other lands within a different part of the City. Both landing were captured on video by Voyager 4 and 5 and analyzed.

    McDonnell Douglas delivers the first Space Base module to the Kennedy Space Center for integration with a Boeing S-IC. Plans are made to dock the Space Base module to Spacelab allowing the station to be manned permanently. Smaller modifications include an AJ-10 engine to provide capability to raise the station’s orbit if needed.

    NASA also decides to use the Apollo Rescue CSM as base space craft until the Hermes can be delivered.

    October 1976

    The final study for the Arthemis landers is published.

    To make development and production easier, station modules and the manned landing/return landers will be designed based on a common base design that replaces the previously proposed biconic and apollo style landers.

    Instead the landers will use large reentry shields that are jettisoned during the last stages of descent, much like it is done for the current Voyager landers. Since the shields need to be very large to protect the landers from reentry heat and make aero-shells unnecessary. They will be build using the same technologies as the Shuttle reentry shield and assembled in orbit.

    Multiple sized drag parachutes will be used to slow down the module down to a speed where liquid fuel engines using hypergolic fuels can slow down the landers for a landing. If needed they also provide the power to do a short lift off to relocate a module.

    To make transport and assembly simpler the modules will have a 8 meter diameter cylinders and a height of twelve meter, standing upright and weighing about 100 tons. With about twenty tons needed for reentry and landing systems, that leaves 80 tons for equipment and other systems.

    While the Mars base modules will contain three stories of living and working space per module, and one story with an airlock and mechanisms to connected multiple base modules.

    The landers will be build based on the same base lander chassis, however will be topped by a conical return stage. Since it is expected that the return stage will only weigh about thirty tons, the crew landers will carry needed equipment to the surface, including a SNAP based nuclear reactor and at least two cars that are to be assembled on the Mars surface.

    An interesting thought that came up during this final study is to produce water, oxygen and fuel for the return stages in situ, using Sabatier and Bosch reactions to locally produce methane as fuel, as well as water and oxygen, bringing only low weight hydrogen. Using this technology allows to get more additional payload to Mars with the crew landers.

    Remote landing procedures for the base modules is seen as too problematic and expensive both in construction and setup.

    Alternatively a system using radio beacons is proposed. The 1979 Voyager mission is proposed to include one or two Mars rovers that will explore Bradbury City and find a place allowing to land the manned mission and then place solar powered radio beacons so that these can be used to navigate to the landing zone.

    A second alternative is to directly integrate the radio beacons into the Voyager 1979 landers and use them for navigation purposes.

    November 1976

    NASA launches the first Space Base module into a trajectory that will bring it close to Spacelab.

    Only two days later Space Base 1 is launched and a crew of three enters the Space Base module. Using the modules integrated RCS and the AJ-10 engine, they move the large module closer to Spacelab. After the crew of Spacelab 7 has moved to their Apollo capsule and undocked, the Space Base module docks instead of the Apollo capsule, which then proceeds to dock with the now large station.

    After connecting the Space Base module with Spacelab and after three EVAs and the preparation of the wet workshop part of the module, NASA announces to rename the resulting station into Freedom. It is expected that four more Space Base modules are added to the resulting station using berthing ports within the first Space Base module.

    The Freedom 1 mission launches on late November carrying two NASA and the first three ESA astronauts to the new station.

    December 1976

    The Soviet Union launches the Venus probe Venera 12. Like its predecessor, it is equipped with a powerful radar system for mapping purposes and a nuclear engine. However it is only equipped with two landers, but with an additional high powered RCS and a number of TV cameras.

    The RCS apparently is needed to change orbits and test remote maneuvering of probes orbiting distant planets.

    January 1977

    Startling news come from the teams analyzing the images of the Voyager missions. In several images sent back by Voyager 4 there are strangely glassy patches in walls and ground of the alien buildings.

    It seems that these patches have been heated rapidly and then cooled down. Theories about laser or other beams weapons begin to pop up.

    February 1977

    North American and BAC publish their plans for the Hermes Personal Transport System.

    Based on the NASA HL-10 lifting body the Hermes will be able to transport four to eight people into orbit and dock with a top or rear mounted docking mechanism.

    Integrated engines will allow it a delta-v of 1000 m/s and the life support system operational times of up to three weeks with a crew of four.

    The rear docking port allows to connect a mission module to the Hermes on free flight missions, reducing the delta-v to about 600 m/s, but extending the life support to up to four weeks.

    The top docking port is meant for docking procedures to a space station, a space shuttle or another Hermes.

    Additionally the Hermes can be used to carry supplies to a space station that don’t need a Space Shuttle to move.

    March 1977

    Venera 12 enters into an orbit around Venus. After releasing its two landers, it being its remote maneuvering tests, changing orbits several times.

    During this time it manages to closely approach the alien derelict in Venus orbit, taking close up images and radar images. The derelict seems to have suffered from complete sudden decompression as one side of it is completely opened to space. It also put the derelict into a spin around all axes.

    Radar measurements place the derelict into a size of about twice the size of a Nimitz class supercarrier. There are also no visible means of propulsion, through extensive damage to one end of the derelict could indicate the loss of the engine section, which either orbits Venus in a different orbit or had entered the Venusian atmosphere.

    April 1977

    Based on the results of the Venera 12 mission the Soviet Politburo decides to follow a two pronged approach. Since the only way to fully deny American access to the alien city on Mars in case of a failure of the Soviet Mars effort is to either use nuclear weapons or try to shoot the American mission down over Mars, the Venus derelict is seen as an alternative to the Martian city. Since it is a space ship is is more likely to contain weapon systems and defensive technologies then the alien city.

    As such a manned Venus mission is planned for 1983, in case the Mars mission of 1981 fails.

    May 1977

    NASA and ESA announce to standardize their docking port systems to a androgynous system, moving away from the simpler probe and drogue system. The new Androgynous Peripheral Attach System (APAS) will be used on all future systems, such as the Space Shuttle, the Hermes Personal Transport System, Space Base modules and other future systems.
    June 1977

    Salyut 5 is launched by the Soviet Union. Its design suggests that it is the first testing prototype of a Soviet Mars mission. Two Soyuz missions fly towards the station in the same month, but return after a short time and several EVAs.

    July 1977

    Salyut 5 is deorbited by the Soviet Union, the short missions to the station suggests a failure similar to Skylab.

    August 1977

    NASA launches Mariner 11 and 12 to a ‘Grand Tour’ into the outer solar system. Primary goal of the ‘Grand Tour’ is to do fly-bys of Jupiter, Saturn, Neptun, Uranus and Pluto.

    Secretly its hoped to find alien artifacts in the outer solar system.

    September 1977

    NASA launches Mariner 13 and 14 the sister probes of Mariner 11 and 12, following on the ‘Grand Tour’.

    October 1977

    NASA launches two Saturn V within one week to deliver the Voyager 7 through 10 to Mars.

    Two of the probes contain landers modified into rovers to test the possibility to place radio beacons within Bradbury City to get a designated landing area.

    The Soviet Union launches two Mars probes, one of them a rover type lander.

    November 1977

    NASA and the DoE launch a second Daedalus upper stage, this time with a bimodal LANTR engine and directly connected to a Mariner type probe.

    This time the orbital tests works out, providing NASA and the DoE With a working nuclear engine similar to the Russian design. At the end the Daedalus is send out on a trajectory to do a fly-by of Venus, combined with a test of the so called ‘Oberth Maneuver’ to increase the velocity of the probe with the rest of the propellant.

    January 1978

    Rocketdyne finishes a test series of the new F-1B rocket engine. Based on the already active F-1A engine the F-1B was designed to be reusable as much as possible. Its design however makes the engine weight and performance is on the same level as the original F-1.

    Multiple engines have been tested and fired up to one hundred times each for a duration of about three hours. Based on the failure rate and other results of the test Rocketdyne guarantees 20 starts before the F-1B has be replaced and serviced for another 20 starts.

    Boeing notes that this change of events makes the first test flight of the new B-18 reusable S-IC slated for 1980 unlikely and that NASA and ESA will have to use the old S-IC until the B-18 is ready.

    February 1978

    Daedalus 1, the Mariner probe mated to the Daedalus stage, reaches Venus. After taking pictures of the planet and doing several other scientific measurements, the probe turns its LANTR engine towards the planet and fires it at periapsis.

    This test confirms that the Oberth Maneuver actually works and increases the delta-v by a multiple of what the tanks actually contain. A nominal remaining delta-v the Daedalus 1 of 1000m/s was increased to 4600m/s with this maneuver.

    Due to the trajectory of the probe, this maneuver acts as a gravity assist, directing the probe onto a trajectory towards Mercury.

    While there is a strange irregular dot seen on one of the images from Venus, it is explained as an error in the transmission.

    March 1978

    DuPond approaches NASA and ESA with the plans for an inflatable habitat module for space stations or stations on the Moon and Mars.

    These plans are based on early 60s plans of Goodyear to produce an inflatable two man space station. Back then the plans were not further developed for fear of deflation of the station when punctuated by micrometeorites and other debris.

    The DuPond plan approaches this problem with the application of multiple layers of Kevlar, insulation and additional bladders to reduce the risk of punctuation to a minimum.

    Both NASA and ESA are very interested, because these modules would provide a much larger inhabited volume for a given payload capacity. As a result NASA orders a test module for attachment on Freedom Station.

    April 1978

    Daedalus 1 reaches Mercury and begins to take pictures during the approach. A slight miscalculation in the Venerian Oberth Maneuver however has brought the probe too close to the planet and the gravity is sufficient that Daedalus 1 is captured by Mercury.

    While absolutely not planned, NASA does not see it as a failure, but as a chance to get more informations about the innermost planet of the sun after the Mariner 10 flyby.

    May 1978

    Voyager 7 through 10 reach Mars and enter orbit.

    With Voyager 7 and 8 this is the first time that a probe has used aerobraking to slow down into a planetary orbit. As a result however, both probes need a longer time to finally settle into an orbit that brings it to the separation point for their landers.

    For Voyager 8 this also means the failure of the separation mechanism, stranding the lander in space.

    With Voyager 9 and 10 it is the first time that NASA can look at places not previously seen in Bradbury City as the large landers were modified into rovers able to traverse the surface of Mars at a sedate 20 meters per hour.

    As another future test, Voyager 10 will be driven to a place outside of Bradbury City, where it will activate a transponder that will hopefully allow a Voyager lander to touch down near the probe.

    June 1978

    The two Soviet probes reach Mars and softly land on the surface. One of them is a rover, however due to a software problem with the release systems from its carrier probe, the rover lands two hundred kilometers outside of Bradbury City.

    July 1978

    The Soviet Union launches Venera 13 towards Venus. Like Venera 12 it’s equipped with an extensive RCS system and two landers.

    August 1978

    After several complaints and a number of problems pointed out at the development team of Project Artemis, it is decided that it would be simpler for automated cargo ships to be send to Mars on a one way mission. It will increase the payload delivered to Mars and add the possility of adding a set of large scale Martian satellites for a better communication coverage after a last burn to place the propulsion stage into an areostationary orbit.

    Late August 1978

    NASA announces that they will be flying the Space Shuttle before the end of the decade.

    September 1978

    After more than four years of construction, ESA finishes with the Guiana Heavy Launch Complex, with four launch pads for Heavy Launch Vehicles and two large Vertical Assembly Buildings.

    Both VABs can build two Saturns at the same time and the control systems are setup to be able to launch from all four pads over a relatively short time.

    Especially interesting for NASA engineers however are the ESA crawlers, which are based on the large German bucket wheel extractors and receive their power from the French nuclear reactor only fourty kilometers distant to the Guiana Space Centre. Its more efficient than the American use of a diesel electric system.

    It is planned to launch first Saturn V with a Space Base module from Guiana at the beginning of the next year.

    Mariner 11 and 12 leave the Asteroid Belt without encountering any asteroids.

    October 1978

    Mariner 13 and 14 leave the Asteroid Belt. Other then Mariner 11 and 12 they had an encounter with a C-class asteroid along the way.

    The integration of the first Saturn V launch Vehicle at the Guiana Space Centre begins.

    November 1978

    Salyut 6 is launched by the Soviet Union. Much like Salyut 5, it is a larger version of the older style Salyut, intended to be used as life test model for a manned Mars mission.

    The first mission towards Salyut 6 also happens to be the first manned mission of the Soviet TKS system.

    The integration of a Saturn IB begins at Guiana Space Centre.

    January 1979

    Mariner 11 and 12 begin their observation phases of Jupiter.

    February 1979

    Mariner 13 and 14 begin their observation phases of Jupiter.

    The Saturn V with the Space Base 2 module and the Saturn IB are moved to launchpad 1 and 3 of the Guiana Space Centre. The Saturn V launches a week later.

    Two men of the crew of Freedom leave Freedom with one of two docked Apollo CSMs and dock with Space Base 2 to move it the rest of the way and dock it with the rest of the station.

    The docking of the Space Base 2 module to Freedom increases the crew capacity to fifteen.

    March 1979

    The Saturn IB launches towards Freedom, carrying the first all European crew of five to the space station.

    Mariner 11 and 12 enter and leave the Jupiter subsystem. Mariner 11 takes the first images of an active volcano outside of the Earth.

    April 1979

    Mariner 13 and 14 enter and leave the Jupiter subsystem. Both confirm the volcanic activity as well as the continued activity of two volcanoes.

    May 1979

    Image analysis of images taken by all probes of the Europa encounter indicate that the Jupiter moon is covered with ice. Images from Mariner 13 and 14 even suggest the existence of an ocean beneath the ice, as there is an active crack visible against the ice of the surface.

    What puzzles the scientists however are apparently moving black objects in the crack. They appear to be image errors.

    July 1979

    NASA launches the first full scale version of the Primary Propulsion Module with a full scale bimodal LANTR engine. Mated to a Mariner based probe, the PPM launches towards Jupiter to do a flyby in early 1981 and then return to Earth in 1983.

    September 11, 1979

    Mated to a conventional Saturn S-IC stage, the Space Shuttle Enterprise launches into orbit, carrying the Astronauts Paul Weitz and Michael Collins are the first to be launched with the first reusable spacecraft. They will return two days later, complaining about the quality of the inflight movie.

    December 1979

    NASA launches four probes towards Mars. Voyager 11 and 12 are carried by one Saturn V, while the new probe types Hephaestos 1 and 2 are launched with one Saturn V each.

    Both Hephaestos probes are meant to do the first tests of Mars mission equipment on Mars and land close to Voyager 10.

    Hephaestos 1 carries equipment to test Sabatier and Bosch reactors, using two tons worth of hydrogen to produce Methane, Water and Oxygen, which are stored for a possible later use. The cryogenic storage of Methane and Oxygen is also meant for long term testing. It is not expected to be for very long as Hephaestos 1 runs on radionuclide batteries.

    Hephaestos 2 carries a large SNAP based nuclear reactor and three small rovers, meant to carry radio beacons to a useful landing position for the manned Mars mission. All three will be tethered to Hephastos 2 to be powered by the larger probe. Additionally, the probe carries a last minute addition in the form of a model DuPond inflatable habitat that will be tested on Mars.
  2. Warringer

    Warringer Goto Wogon for Hard SciFi

    January 1980

    The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency express interest in buying the Hermes spacecraft.

    NASA launches Enterprise a second time, this time with a concrete payload and seven astronauts.

    Enterprise proceeds to dock with the space station Freedom, delivering a Canadian build Canadarm and the prototype of a tentatively human rated inflatable space habitat.

    February 1980

    After secret talks through NATO over the last five years, NASA and ESA officially enter public talks about joining their efforts into a single international space agency.

    March 1980

    After a mission of seventeen month length, the crew of Salyut 6 returns to Earth with their TKS capsule.

    They will have remained in space far longer than anyone else before them.

    Afterwards the Soviet Union publishes a number of scientific informations to the western world indicating that long term microgravity causes extensive damage to bones and muscles. NASA and ESA see this as a balant attempt to make them reconsider their mission to Mars, now scheduled for April 1984. Especially since they have already asked McDonnell Douglas for a solution.

    April 1980

    After only two Space Base modules flown, McDonnell Douglas unveils an updated Space Base II module. Other than the original Space Base modules with their dry workshop being based on the S-IVB Skylab module, the new Space Base II modules will feature a constant diameter between the wet and dry workshop parts of the modules.

    But not only that. All new Space Base II modules will feature a small ‘gravity deck’ in form of a rotating cylinder between the dry and wet workshop sections. Still within the outer hull, it is expected that they can provide up to 0.2g gravity, which is hoped to be enough to counter long term effects of microgravity.

    Since McDonnell Douglas is already working on a Space Base II module, the first one will be launched towards Freedom before the end of the year.

    June 1980

    After several talks JAXA is allowed to purchase the Hermes spacecraft, provided that they can provide their own launcher capable of launching around 10 tons into LEO.

    July 1980
    Voyager 11 and 12 as well as Hephaestos 1 and 2 reach Mars.

    While Voyager 11 collides with a building and ceases operation, Voyager 12 lands softly within Bradbury City.

    Hephaestos 1 and 2 successfully land within 100 meter of Voyager 10. Hephaestos 1 landed first and activated a radio beacon to prevent Hephaestos 2 from crashing into it. Both Hephaestos probes begin operations.

    August 1980

    NASA launches the Space Shuttle Columbia from the Kennedy Space Center. Only one day later the first ESA Space Shuttle Europa launches from the Guiana Space Centre.

    Both shuttles meet in orbit and dock with each other for three days before both shuttles return to Florida and Guiana.

    Mariner 11 does a course correction that will bring it closer to the Saturn moon Titan, after Pioneer 12 discovered an atmosphere around the moon one year earlier.

    Mariner 12 does a similar course correction that will bring it onto a course towards Pluto after its fly by of Saturn.

    September 1980

    Mariner 11 and 12 begin their observation phases of Saturn.

    Mariner 11 does a very close fly by of Titan, closing to 2765 km towards the moon. During that approach Mariner 11 discovers several unknown artifacts within orbit around Titan.

    It sends the scientific community into an uproar.

    Mariner 13 is ordered to do a course correction towards Titan as well.

    October 1980

    Mariner 13 and 14 begin their observation phases of Saturn.

    Mariner 13 tries its close fly by of Titan, but a slight error during the course correction is enough to send the probe to a reentry path of the Titanian atmosphere. It does manage to snap two higher resolution images of the unknown artifacts before contact is lost.

    The mission of Ikarus 1, the Mariner probe mated to the first prototype Primary Propulsion Module, is changed with this discovery. Instead of returning to Earth, the probe will do a gravity assist utilizing the Oberth Effect to catapult it on a trajectory towards Saturn, where it will do a similar maneuver to be captured by Saturn.

    It is expected that Ikarus 1 will have enough delta-v to enter an orbit around Titan and match orbit with the artifacts, which are clearly of alien nature.

    November 1980

    The Soviet Union launches Venera 14, a probe similar to Venera 12 and 13, but with a more extensive RCS system and what looks like a remote controlled arm and a single lander.

    The Soviet explanation is that they want to try out the remote docking of two probes.

    NASA and ESA, still very excited about the Titan artifacts ignore the Soviets plans for Venus for the moment.

    December 1980

    After several month of talks between NASA and ESA, the two space agencies announce their joining into the International Space Agency, ISA. The transition is expected to be done until the end of next year.

    January 1981

    The Soviet Union launch the first two N1N rockets, modified N1 rockets using a nuclear third stage to increase its payload capacity from 90 tons to 110 tons. They are used to deliver two modified Salyut 6 modules that are docked to create Salyut 7. Rather then a single TKS, two are launched by Proton rockets to dock with the new station.

    The first unmanned Hermes spacecraft is launched on top of a NASA Titan III rocket. After three orbits the Hermes lands in the Atlantic ocean, proving that it can land like most previous space capsules, even though its a lifting body design. The reason for the water landing is that the remote control systems of the Hermes failed during reentry and it overshot Florida.

    February 1981

    The Soviet Union launches a number of Proton rockets to Salyut 7 to add a number of smaller scientific modules to the station.

    It is seen by NASA and ESA as a reaction to the growing space station Freedom, which is in orbit since the launch of Spacelab.

    In late February the Soviet Union launched the first even nuclear electric probe after it was assembled at Salyut 7. Equipped with an engine of only about 50N thrust, but a specific Impulse of about 8000 seconds, it takes a slow but continuous acceleration towards the asteroid belt.

    After several delays NASA launches the first Space Base II module towards Freedom. It is docked with the station and for the first time provides artificial gravity of sorts.

    March 1981

    First manned test of the Hermes spacecraft, with one American and one European astronaut. After one day in orbit, it returns to Earth, landing at Cape Canaveral.

    After two weeks the Hermes is launched a second time, this time to dock with Freedom, delivering four astronauts to the space station and proving a short turnover time.

    April 1981

    The Soviet Union launches several Proton rockets to Salyut 7 and after several days a second nuclear electric powered probe is launched from the station, this time towards Jupiter. Its also equipped with two of the previous engines, providing a thrust of about 100N.

    Hephaestos 1 has used its entire store of liquid hydrogen to create Methane, Oxygen and Water from the Martian atmosphere utilizing its Sabatier and Bosch reactors. This proves the feasibility of using these reactions for in situ resource utilization.

    June 1981

    The second double launch of a NASA and an ESA shuttle. And again both shuttles are on their maiden flights. The NASA shuttle is named Challenger and the ESA shuttle Elysium. Again they dock in orbit and return to their bases after a week in orbit.

    July 1981

    First test launch of the Boeing B-18 reusable first stage from the Kennedy Space Center. It only carries a boilerplate S-II stage filled with water. The first pilot of the B-18 is Chuck Yeager, who demanded to be the first test pilot.

    While the ascent is successful, as is the separation, the return to Cape Canaveral proves to be more of a challenge for Yeager. Three of the B-18s het engines failed due to vibrations during ascent and leave Yeager with less power than he would need. It is only a testament to his flying skills that the B-18 lands at Kennedy Space Center, exactly one meter before the beginning of the runway.

    August 1981

    NASA and ESA begin to move to the new International Center for Space Flight near Miami, Florida. This is done in anticipation of the merger of both NASA and ESA into the ISA.

    At the same time two Hermes spacecraft are launched towards Freedom to replace the three Apollo capsules as rescue craft. Able to seat a crew of seven they are more then enough to evacuate the Freedom crew of fourteen in an unforeseen event.

    September 1981

    ESA and NASA launch two Saturn V with the two parts of the first Mars Base module lander.

    The descent stage, with the nuclear reactor and the Sabatier/Bosch reactors, was produced by the Americans, while the living and laboratory part of the module was built by the Europeans.

    Both parts are sent towards the space station Freedom where they are mated together. Afterwards the module is named Columbus.

    October 1981

    The Space Shuttles Europa and Challenger launch from the Kennedy Space Center and Guiana Space Centre to dock with Freedom. Aside from replacing the crew of the station, they carry the elements of the heatshield meant to protect Columbus during the Martian reentry.

    Meanwhile the Soviet Union launches a large scale Salyut module with a nuclear N1. It is seen to be Salyut 8 by NASA and ESA.

    November 1981

    NASA launches the first Primary Propulsion Module to Freedom to be mated to the Columbus module.

    December 1981

    NASA and ESA cease to exist. Both organisations are joined in the new International Space Agency based in the International Center for Space Flight in Miami, Florida.

    Three more Primary Propulsion are launched to Freedom to be mated to the Columbus module.

    January 1982

    After a large number of tests, ISA gives a go to the launch of the Columbus module towards Mars. The large scale module Is launched towards Mars in late January.

    The Soviet Union also launches three more large scale modules to the presumed Salyut 8 space station. Only after both modules are mated to the presumed station and a TKS module docked, the actual purpose of the module becomes apparent.

    February 2nd, 1982

    The Soviet Union launches MEK 1 towards Mars, the first manned mission to the red planet.

    Powered by three nuclear electric engine complexes the spaceship is expected to overtake the Columbus module and land earlier.

    Soviet Premier Tikhonov expresses the hope that the mission can be undertaken without military intervention on the part of NATO. As response the President of the United States Carter expresses the same concerns about any ISA mission.

    February 1982

    With the Soviet Manned Mars Mission on the way to Mars and expected to make it to the red planet before Columbus, the ISA decides to wait it out for the moment. For one the entire Mars mission looks like an opposition mission and the lander, as seen from telescope images from Freedom, does not look very large. As such it is expected that the Soviet Mission is only able to remain about 30 days on the surface of Mars before having to return to Earth.

    The Artemis Mission on the other hand is a mission that calls for the creation of a permanently manned Mars Base, allowing a longer term scientific study of the Martian Ruins.

    March 1982

    Erich von Däneken publishes ‘Martian Gods’. It describes his theories that the aliens of Bradbury City are the ‘Ancient Astronauts’ that he described in his earlier books, citing a number of analysis he did of photographs from the Voyager probes.

    It remains on place one of the New York Times Bestseller list for four month and popularized the idea that the Martian Aliens have been to Earth.

    All sorts of people come out of the woodwork, among them a man calling himself John Carter, who claims to be on Mars now and again and that he will prevent the Soviets from landing at Bradbury City and kill them with the help of his Martian friends.

    April 1982

    Partly as a response to von Däneken, a group of JPL scientists, college and university professors, sign a petition to the Head of the ISA, Jesco von Puttkammer, to use modern technologies to look for signs of the Aliens on Earth from orbit.

    They note that the same technologies, after being tested on Earth, could be employed on Mars, since chances are high that there are other artifact sites than Bradbudy City.

    May 1982

    After several weeks of studies and a growing public and political pressure on the ISA to find alien artifacts on Earth, ISA gives green light to a series of Shuttle and Hermes missions under the name ‘Missions to Planet Earth’. These missions will use the latest technology to man the surface of Earth using Radar and multispectral imaging.

    Cray Inc. announces the new Cray X-MP supercomputer. They also present a short study to the ISA, noting that a supercomputer on the Artemis Mission would allow the crew of the mission to do computer aided research without needing to send data to Earth, making the research in question faster.

    ISA is sceptical at first, since they fear that a supercomputer may be damaged by cosmic radiation or the forces during launch or a landing. Cray notes that they plan to replace the Freon cooling system with a water based system as well as surrounding the computer with a water jacket to reduce the cosmic radiation.

    After two weeks, ISA announces that they will purchase a number of Cray-1S systems modified to the rigors of space.

    June 1982

    ISA announces the names for the two Manned Mars ships that will be build in orbit during the year 1983. One will bear the name Endeavour, the other the name Discovery.

    Both are expected to serve on the router between Earth and Mars for years to come.

    July 1982

    With the possibility of remote artifact sites on Mars, the ISA sees the need to visit them within a useful timeframe. Most plans already drawn up call for a pressurized rover the size of a Winnabago, but ISA wants to have something faster.

    Planes are proposed, but a plan of McDonnell Douglas draws the interest of the ISA. Partly based on Philip Bono’s SASSTO, McDonnell Douglas proposes the use of a single stage ‘Hopper’ for suborbital trajectories that could bring a couple of Astronauts to an artifact site and back. Using Methane and Oxygen as propellants, the ‘Hopper’ would utilize already existing resources of the Mars Base. It would also be possible to expand on the basic design to create a reusable orbital ferry for the Mars Base, allowing to get into orbit at any time the astronauts may want to, reducing the need for larger crew landers and return stages that could only be used once.

    July 20, 1982

    The Soviet MEK 1 enters an orbit around Mars after breaking for the last three weeks.

    July 21, 1982

    The Soviet landing capsule detaches from MEK 1 to begin its descent towards Bradbury City.

    A computer error however prevents the firing of the deorbiting stage at the correct position in orbit, only firing it a quarter orbit later.

    As a result the Soviet capsule lands more then three thousand kilometers south east of Bradbury City, too far away for the Soviets to reach the site.

    Still, the Soviets are the first to place three man onto the surface of Mars.

    July 22, 1982

    The Soviet try to salvage the MEK 1 mission by changing the nature on the fly as best as they can.

    Rumors note that the designer of the descent computer and the programmers of the descent program are sent to Siberia.

    August 1982

    Seeing that the Soviets may have beat the ISA to Mars, but not to Bradbury City, the western world breathes a sigh of relief. In this atmosphere of relief the ISA asks McDonnell Douglas to develop their ‘Hopper’ design to a full reusable martian SSTO capable of transporting ten tons and seven people to orbit and back. The use as suborbital vehicle however is secondary.

    Following this decision, Philip Bono is called to McDonnell Douglas to help develop the SASSTO plans into the Hopper Martian SSTO.

    Following this decision, ISA begins to change its plans for the 1986 Mars Mission, to include a larger Sabatier and Bosch reactor system to produce larger amounts of Methane, Water and Oxygen to fuel the Hopper. Since the Soviets have published some of their findings on Mars, ISA already knows that there are places on the Martian surface where they can find water, reducing the need to carry hydrogen to Mars for the Sabatier and Bosch reactors.

    August 18, 1982

    The Soviet Mars mission returns to MEK 1 and begin to leave Martian orbit the same day. They are expected to return to Earth in January 1983.

    August 23, 1982

    Columbus enters Martian orbit, using up all remaining propellant of its PPM.

    August 26, 1982

    Using its automated landing system, Columbus begins its descent towards the Martian surface. It is the first time something this large is to land on the Red Planet.

    While the ISA hopes the everything will work according to the plans, they have a backup plan in case the landing does not work.

    After using its fifty meter diameter heatshield to enter the Martian atmosphere, Columbus uses three different sets of parachutes to decelerate under the speed of sound at an altitude of ten kilometers, before detaching the heatshield and using its engines to softly land near Voyager 10 and Hephaestos 1 and 2.

    August 27, 1982

    Columbus begins autonomous operations in preparation of the 1984 Mars Mission.

    September 1982

    Second launch of the B-18 reusable first stage. Instead of a boiler plate second stage, ISA has decided to use the Shuttle Enterprise as the second stage, carrying a second large scale inflatable habitat module towards Freedom.

    Again the ascent is without problems, but the return to Cape Canaveral proves to be a problem as one of the B-18 jet engines fails.

    October 1982

    Columbus encounters several problems in its systems and a small hull breach. The computer of the module is ordered to seal the section of the hull breach. Since it is the medical section of Columbus the Martian atmosphere is allowed to spoil drugs and other medical stuff inside.

    November 1982

    The ISA launches the last of the four shuttles ordered by NASA, the Atlantis.

    December 1982

    The Soviet Union test the first of their next generation rocket, the Vulcan Heavy Launch Vehicle. The Vulcan is able to lift the same payload as the Saturn V without needing a nuclear stage. However there are plans to increase the capacity by using a nuclear upper stage.

    Late January 1983

    MEK 1 returns to Earth, entering Earth orbit before rendezvousing and docking with Salyut 7. The crew later lands on the Soviet Union where they are presented as heroes who took the first steps on Mars. None of them will return to space as long as the Soviet Union exists.

    February 1983

    Ikarus 1 reaches Saturn and uses a gravity assist combined with using its nuclear engine in an Oberth Maneuver to bring itself into a Saturn orbit. At the JPL the probe is directed into a complicated series of gravity assists around many of Saturns moons to settle the probe into a Titan orbit without using what remains of propellant.

    Ikarus 1 also does its first gravity assist around Titan, managing to make the first real close up images of the alien artifacts, which appear to be a space station and a space ship of some kind.

    March 1983

    ISA publishes an updated mission profile for the Artemis Mission. Rather then launching at the best possible date for the mission, Endeavor and Discovery will launch in February 1984 with an added number of Primary Propulsion Modules attached to the Core Propulsion Modle and its external Propellant Tanks.

    This will add a good amount of delta-v to each ship, so that they will reach Mars ahead of a Soviet nuclear electric mission for the same year, after Columbus was overtaken by the 1982 Soviet Mars Mission.

    April 1983

    Following the updated mission profile of the Artemis Mission, the ISA begins to fund the two month Next Generation Propulsion Study, with the goal of creating a better propulsion system then the bimodal LANTR engine.

    Ikarus 1 settles into a Titan orbit with a final short ignition of its engine and begins to match orbits with the alien atrifacts.

    May 1983

    Two Saturn launches bring the core living modules of Endevor and Discovery into orbit. Both are heavily modified Space Base II modules.

    Ikarus 1 enters a fianl co-orbit with the alien artifacts, just three kilometers away from them and begins to transmit images to Earth.

    In a complete surprise move, the German OTRAG launches the first KAYSER 1 launch vehicle from its launch complex on the Solomon Islands. It is the first launch of a privately funded rocket carrying a privately funded 1 ton satellite.

    OTRAG has moved to the Solomon Islands in April 1979 after their failed ‘African Adventure’ in Zaire, and after the government of the Islands offered them to build a factory and launch complex, in exchange for jobs and a new source of income.

    It is the beginning of the age of commercial space travel and leads to an increase of companies who independently fund launch vehicles.

    June 1983

    A first analysis of images returned by Ikarus 1 notes that it appears that both the alien space ship and the alien space station have taken excessive damage. Some images suggest an intentional attack on both atrifacts from outside. Whether both fired on each other or not is unknown.

    Other images are made of Titan, creating more questions then answers about the moon. However images and other data of the moon suggest a thick nitrogen atmosphere with parts of organic chemicals.

    Two launches of the technical sections of Endeavor and Discovery, containing cryo-cooling systems, backup solar sails, heat radiators and other technical systems needed for the two space ships.

    The Next Generation Propulsion Study finishes. Two of the more serious propulsion systems are the Variable Impulse Plasma engine and the Gassous Core Nuclear engine. ISA awards both as well as the solar sail study with funds for additional studies.

    July 1983

    Two launches of the second Mars Base module Cook complete the module in orbit.

    The first F-1C engines is tested, combining the reusability of the F-1B with the power and weightsavings of the F-1A.

    August 1983

    The Soviet Union launches two living modules similar to that of MEK 1. Another launch brings a module to Salyut 7, which turns out to be a propellant tank for MEK 1, which replaces the used one. Another module is attached to MEK 1 that puzzles the western world.

    Challenger is launched on top of a B-18 reusable stage. It is the first time the B-18 launches and returns without a problems for the first time.

    September 1983

    A TKS module docks with MEK 1 and the ship leaves Earth orbit. At first there is something of a panic going through the ranks of the western world until the Soviet Ambassador to the UN proclaims that MEK 1 is on a scientific journey toward Venus and that the MEK 1, now named VEK 1 is to assess the effects of the solar wind on the Venera orbiters up close.

    ISA accepts that explanations, through they do get suspicious about the Soviet focus on Venus as well as Mars.

    October 1983

    Assembly of Endeavor, Discovery and Cook continues with the launch of the two Core Propulsion Modules for the manned ships and the first Primary Propulsion Module for Cook.

    November 1983

    Analysts of several western intelligence agencies note that the Soviet launch to Mars does not seem to happen ahead of schedule of April. Apparently the Soviets figure that they will be able to overtake the ISA anyway.

    The ISA begins to launch external tanks for Endeavour and Discovery.

    December 1983

    VEK 1 slowly enters an orbit around Venus and begins to match orbit with the alien spaceship. Being this close to the alien ship, the Soviet crew begins to work where the later Venera probes stopped, by trying to reduce its rotation to one where they can work on it. Additionally they release a number of satellites equipped with kinetic weapons to secure the spaceship against possible ISA probes or ships.

    The ISA begins its series of launches to equip the manned and unmanned ships with Primary Propulsion Modules.

    January 1984

    Two Saturn launches bring the Mars lander and return modules to Endeavor and Discovery, while three Shuttle launches bring the three heat shields into orbit where they are assembled and connected with the landers and Cook.

    February 1984

    The Artemis Mission launches towards Mars in an internationally broadcast to Queen’s ‘Don’t stop me now’. The assistant who switched the Beethoven tape with Queen gets chewed out later on, but public reception for the music selection prevents the ISA to just fire him.

    Again the Soviet Union and the NATO once again express the hope about peaceful coexistence in space.

    Late February 1984

    Negotiations begin in an ‘emergency’ UN General Assembly called in by the Soviet Union. The Negotiations have to goal to control who can claim alien artifacts and the exact meaning of the word ‘artifact’.

    March 1984

    George Lucas announces that he will write, direct and produce a prequel trilogy to the first Star Wars trilogy. This is the direct reaction to ‘Return of the Jedi’ being one of the highest grossing movies in the second half of the 20th century and the general rise of Science Fiction in popular culture.

    The first movie ‘Star Wars: The Phantom Menace’ will be released in 1986.

    April 1984

    The UN negotiations end with the ‘Artifact Accords’.

    The say that an artifact belongs to that nation that can claim it and do research on it. Especially important is the notion that entire space ships and stations are claimed to be ‘objects’ rather then ‘locations’ like Bradbury City.

    It was the Soviet Union and their client/friendly nations that pressed this wording into the Artifact Accords’. As a direct result NATO expects that this is a preparation for a Soviet mission to Saturn to take claim of the two artifacts in Titan’s orbit.

    The ISA is asked to draw up plans to reach Saturn before the Soviets do.

    The two Soviet space craft MEK 2 and MEK 3 leave for Mars. Both are equipped with short duration landing capsules for Mars, making the ISA breathe a sigh of relief as they plan to build up a permanent presence.

    May 1984

    The CIA and Mossad obtain informations about the Soviets finding an artifact in Venus orbit.

    The large telescope mounted to the space station Freedom is directed towards the planet and takes images of a large artifact in Venus orbit two weeks later. A smaller dot next to the artifact is obviously the Soviet VEK 1 space craft.

    June 1984

    While the CIA and the ISA are secretly planning to mount a mission to Venus to try and take control over the Venerian artifact, the Soviets have found their security leak.

    The discovery of the Venerian artifact is then announced in the UN General Assembly, with the Soviets claiming it according to the ‘Artifact Accords’ and announce that they will establish a permanent presence in Venerian orbit near the artifact.

    In the same month the Soviet Union launches another pair of living modules meant for their expeditionary spaceships.

    July 1984

    The movie ‘The Last Starfighter’ is released. It describes a world where Bradbury City is still inhabited and a human from Earth has to fight off the last attack of another alien race against the alien living on Mars.

    It is one of the first movies to use Bradbury City as the backdrop and the first to bring up the notion that the aliens that build the city on Mars could have been refugees of some sort.

    In late July the ISA publishes its official roadmap for future missions.

    Endeavor and Discovery will be joined by a third space ship on the route between Mars and Earth, with a modification being done to the first two Mars ships to be able to carry more crew and consumables.

    During each Mission cycle, the Mars base will expand with one or more modules, depending on the situation on Mars, also increasing the crew stationed on Mars.

    Additionally the ISA will expand its space infrastructure.

    A new space station is planned to be constructed in the Earth-Moon L5 point to ease future missions into interplanetary space and the Moon. The projected data of the first Space Base II module for the station is late 1986.

    Additionally ISA plans to build up a permanent presence on the Moon by 1990. It is mostly meant for industrial use of lunar resources for future missions.

    To ferry crew and freight between Earth orbit, the L5 station and the moon, a nuclear powered refuelable shuttle is planned, echoing early plannings for the post Apollo era by NASA.

    August 1984

    Endeavor, Discovery and Cook enter Martian orbit and the crew prepares to land on the martian surface. Some modifications to the life support of Cook have been made and the landers carry additional consumables, since the full 12 men crew will remain on Mars for 60 more days than originally planned before the return window for six of them opens.

    Mission Commander Story Musgrave quotes Antoine de Saint Exupéry as he takes the first step of an American on the Martian soil.

    ‘Your task is not to foresee the future, but to enable it.’

    This quote will shape the entire Artemis Mission and the future of the Mars Base. The Mars landing and the following sort of life broadcast in the news are covered by Walter Cronkite, who retires afterwards, citing that he had covered the biggest events in the history of the 20th century now.

    The first ten days after the initial landing is taken by connecting the two Mars Base modules and build up all the infrastructure carried by the modules and the manned landers. The hole in the medical section of Columbus is closed and on August 25 Barsoom Station a kilometer north of Bradbury City officially begins its work.

    First order of business is to locate the Voyager landers and directly observe and examine the already known places.

    First analysis of the construction material used for Bradbury City confirms that its a form of reinforced concrete using martian soil.

    September 1984

    The Soviet spacecraft MEK 2 and MEK 3 enter Mars orbit and their landers land on Mars.

    This time both landers are able to land several kilometers south of Bradbury City.

    Using simple rovers, compared to the advanced rovers of Barsoom Station, the Soviets begin to explore Bradbury City and take samples. They are always observed by two of the ISA astronauts who have been sent to Mars for security reasons. One US Marine and one Royal British Marine.

    Both still can pull their weight on the Mission as the US Marine has studied archeology, while the Royal Marine is a certified medical doctor.

    Both missions go out of their way to avoid each other.

    October 1984

    The Soviets launch from Mars and dock with their return vehicles. They leave orbit towards Earth with one ton worth of Alien artifacts.

    At Earth, VEK 2 and VEK 3 launch towards Venus, carrying the first modules for a space station the Soviet Union plans to build in Venerian orbit.

    MEK 3 returns to Earth with the unknown artifact that caused the Rapture Incident. The sole survivor of the mission, Mission Commander Vladimir Putin is still sane, but moved to the Lubyanka for questioning.

    November 1984

    Exactly on Halloween, a team of two astronauts find the first skeleton of an alien within a building. The aliens have been very different from humans and not even remotely humanoid. Instead their bodies were radially symmetric with eight limbs, four legs and four arms. Nothing else can be said for the moment however.

    In response to the date of the discovery an ISA technician calls the aliens ‘Elder Things’ while being caught by a news camera. While the ISA tries to keep that out of the news, CBS soon begins to call the aliens ‘Elder Things’ as well, quickly followed by the other news stations.

    Later that month the ISA lander of Endeavor return to Endeavor with two tons worth of especially interesting artifacts and Endeavor leaves for Earth in a standard orbit as it was planned.

    Neither astronauts nor artifacts will be kept in quarantine because of the general consensus that the return leg of the mission is already long enough to act as quarantine.

    December 1984

    The first time Christmas is celebrated on Mars and the astronauts get a very exciting present.

    They find the wreckage of Voyager 6 and the cause of the color flickering that was recorded by the probe before it shut down.

    It appears that at least parts of the City still have power from some source and the flickering happens to be a malfunctioning screen display. Of course no one had any idea what it actually displays.

    January 1985

    Ronald Reagan is sworn in as the 40th President of the United States after beating Walter Mondale by just one percent.

    However the Democrats have more seats in the Senate and congress, actively beginning to torpedo any attempt of Reagan to realize the supply side economics he offered during the electoral campaign. A number of Republicans also call out against the proposed politics, seeing that the United States have a healthy economy.

    The ISA opens up a design contest between US and European companies to design an orbital propellant depot. Almost immediately Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm offers a working test article of a slush hydrogen tank, citing that slush hydrogen is denser than normal liquid hydrogen and would be less bulky to store. MBB also notes that they would be able to deliver a test article of the slush hydrogen containment system until August of the same year.

    February 1985

    Nationwide protests against US President Reagan as he tries to reduce the US budget for the ISA and funnel the funds into the Department of Defense. Additionally the aerospace lobby heavily opposes that step as well.

    The collapse of a submartian structure near Barsoom Station allows entry into the submartian systems of Bradbury City. A hangar is found two week later, with a number of seemingly intact alien space ships. The ISA immediately claims these ships, putting them nearly on par to the Soviet Union.

    March 1985

    The Soviet Union approaches the United Nations with images that prove that the astronauts of Barsoom Station are armed, showing two astronauts armed with crossbows. They immediately demand that the ISA is to cease any activity on Mars and return their astronauts as fast as possible.

    The ISA counters with releasing images of Soviet cosmonauts armed with automatic rifles and state that the crossbows are actually intended to be used to launch grappling hooks onto the top of buildings and were only converted into weapons as it became clear that the Soviets were bearing actual weapons. As such the conversion of the crossbows as weapons was only done out of self defense.

    US President Reagan uses the ‘Guns of Mars’ incident to call for a Strategic and Tactical Defense Initiative to put advanced weaponry into space to shoot down Soviet Missiles and defend Freedom and Barsoom Station against Soviet ‘space marines’.

    MEK 2 and MEK 3 return to Earth and offload their collected material into a capsule that immediately lands in the Caspian Sea.

    Mikhail Gorbachev becomes 6th General Secretary of the Soviet Union.

    April 1985

    The ISA launches two new modules to Freedom. One is a conventional Space Base II module the other the ‘Node 1’, a Space Base I module that is turned into a specialized docking module for Endeavor and Discovery as well as future Cis-Lunar shuttles.

    May 1985

    Several Space Shuttle launches deliver six docking extensions to Freedom, where they are connected to ‘Node 1’.

    Reagan manages to decrease the US budget for the ISA to funnel the funds into his STDI project, which is nicknamed the ‘Star Wars Program’ by the media.

    June 1985

    Endeavor returns to Earth and initiates docking sequence with Freedom after receiving an update on their mission profile.

    Other member nations of the ISA increase their spending for the common space program, to catch the slack given by the decreasing US funds. Many US Senators call for Reagan to increase the ISA budget again as they see the power of the US diminishing with the decrease of funds.

    July 1985

    MBB delivers its Slush Hydrogen Containment Test Satellite to the ISA. It will be used to test MBBs cryogenic systems in orbit after they proven themselves on Earth.

    The Science Fiction movie ‘Explorers’ is released. It will becoming the highest grossing movie in 1985, about three boys who are contacted by aliens in their dreams, discover a martian relic and then use it to fly into space to meet the aliens.

    August 1985

    SHCTS is launched as the payload of the Space Shuttle Enterprise and put into an orbit close to the Space Station Freedom. It is expected that the satellite will prove the worth of the slush hydrogen systems for the near future.

    Barsoom Station finds more and more indicators that Bradbury City was deliberately attacked, destroying whatever means the city had to contain its atmosphere. The lack of anything that may be able to hold up a dome structure as well as glass or crystal strengthens the theory that a sort of energy field was used to contain an atmosphere.

    September 1985

    The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency launches their first completely domestically developed rocket, able to lift 12 tons into LEO.

    With this launch vehicle, called H-1, JAXA can purchase the North American and BAC Hermes spacecraft.

    With the JAXA purchase, rumors about a North American-BAC merger increase in number, which is especially brisant considering that the Thatcher Government in the United Kingdom is working to nationalize large parts of the aerospace and shipbuilding companies, after the failed Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Act of 1977.

    October 1985

    China launches the first manned Shuguang space craft with Lu Xiangxiao and Fang Guojun. The capsule closely resembles the US Gemini capsule, but is equipped with a docking adapter. Around the same time, China announces that they are planning to build a space station and a manned mars mission until 1995.

    While the ISA congratulates China for their accomplishment, they remain wary about the Chinese intentions. The Soviet Union simply chooses to ignore the Chinese.

    November 1985

    The Polish Government calls for Soviet Help as the Solidarność movement becomes more and more of a problem, even with the Martial Law that is in effect since 1980. Lech Wałęsa is executed as the Soviets send their troops to Poland, leading to protests among the western nations.

    December 1985

    A raid in a secret Moscow bordell leads to a shooting between police forces and the relatively small organized crime, leading to the death of ten high rank visitors, among them Bosir Yeltsin, the First Secretary of the Moscow Communist Party.

    Barsoom Station manages to carbon date the remains of one ‘Elder Thing’. According to the dating Bradbury City is at least 100000 years old.

    At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a group studying one of the artifacts returned to Earth, manages to open it. It comes to life for a moment, projecting a holographic image into the air for a moment, before dying in a sparkle of electricity. This leads to the theory that the artifact has been a holographic projector of some form.
  3. Warringer

    Warringer Goto Wogon for Hard SciFi

    January 1986

    The ISA begins with the construction of the Mars Module Magellan. It will increase living space and include a new laboratory. Additionally Magellan contains larger Sabatier and Bosch reactors and a number of tanks for liquid Methane, Oxygen, Hydrogen and Water, developed by DuPont based on their inflatable living modules.

    Additionally Magellan is taller, including an inflatable section designed as a greenhouse adding an aquaponic system to Barsoom Base to add fresh vegetables and fish to the astronauts diet.

    Around the same time the first McDonnell Douglas Hopper is launched on several ballistic test flights in the Earth atmosphere.

    North American and BAC merger to form the Atlantic Aerospace Company AAC.

    February 1986

    The ISA begins to refuel Endeavor. To aid future refueling missions, six slush hydrogen storage modules are ordered from MBB to be integrated into a space station that will share the orbit with Freedom and keep a distance of about ten kilometers to the larger manned station.

    With the future deployment of a second space station, the ISA begins to ask the aerospace industry to design an orbital shuttle that can be carried by the Space Shuttle, with the goal of transferring crew and cargo between orbital stations.

    The Soviet Union launches two tankage systems to refuel MEK 2 and 3 to be used to return to Mars. A third larger spacecraft is build by the Soviets, apparently meant to send a living module to Mars that allows them to remain for a longer time.

    March 1986

    In the Soviet Union the XXVIIth Party Congress closes with passing the Perestroika plans of General Secretary Gorbachev. Perestroika (english for restructuring) is to use networked computers, based on Project Cybersyn of the Chilean Allende government, to streamline the production plans.

    Part of the system is going to utilize technologies derived from alien artifacts that have been in research since the return of VEK 1.

    Additionally to the new Mars spacecraft, the Soviets begin to assemble a fourth Venus craft, VEK 4.

    Federal Express and United Parcel Service announce interest in acquiring a McDonnell Douglas Hopper to use as fast suborbital transports for extremely important express deliveries. Since Earth based tests of the Hopper have proven that it can reliably cross distances of about 10000 kilometers in less than one hour it is considered to be perfect for the job.

    April 1986

    At the Carnegie Mellon University scientists identify the control systems of an alien artifact. Carefully extracting it, they discover that the control board is very flexible and based on advanced plastics.

    The identification of the central controller lead to the discovery that the command board is mostly glued together on a molecular level. Additionally the controller and all other identified chips are not based on silicon or any other known semiconductors, but rather on carbon.

    The carrier craft of Magellan is finished and Enterprise and Enterprise and Challenger deliver two Hopper craft to Endeavor additionally to a conventional lander unit. Some modifications are do to increase the crew from six to nine astronauts.

    June 1986

    The carbon in the artifact at Carnegie Mellon are identified as diamond and the first identified instance of graphene. Nearly instantly it sparks of theories about the use of graphene and diamond to replace silicon as main semiconductor.

    MBB announces that they will resurrect their BETA project to design an SSTO craft based on the success of OTRAG and the possible success of the Hopper.

    Endeavor and Magellan leave Earth for Mars. The Soviets launch their own small fleet of three spacecraft to Mars, while VEK 1 and VEK 4 leave for Venus.

    July 1986

    Further exploration of the submatrian areas of Bradbury City lead to the discovery of several large tanks filled with water. Barsoom Station expects that these tanks hold about one million cubic meters of water. Interestingly a nearby power station still powers the tanks and as such the water contained by the tanks is still liquid.

    Analysis of the water at Barsoom Station indicates that the water should be drinkable after filtering. It also provides Barsoom Station with a way to become partly independent from Earth, through it is currently unknown how to get the water back to Barsoom Station. One proposal is to use the ten cubic meter inflatable test habitat of the Hephaestos 2 probe as improvised water tank.

    Since the power station and the water tanks can be considered at artifacts, ISA lays claim on them and notes that if the Soviets would want to have some of the water, they should ask nicely.

    August 1986

    VEK 2 leaves Venus for Earth after nearly twenty month in orbit, while VEK 3 remains docked with the basic Veneral Space Station near the Venusian artifact. VEK carries about three tons worth of artifacts.

    While Congress and Senate do their best to overturn US President Reagan in everything space related, he still manages to slip some legislation through that increases military spending in space. As a direct result the US Air Force can launch a Space Base II module from Vandenberg forming the space station Prometheus, which is later crewed with a US Air Force Hermes spacecraft, named Intrepid.

    The ISA tries its best to ignore the US Air Force.

    September 1986

    The first MBB slush hydrogen module is delivered to ISA in Guiana and ISA begins with the integration to a B-18 and Ariane second stage. To decrease the energy need of the cryogenic systems, the module integrates a large conical sunshade to cast a shadow that will help coll down the slush hydrogen.

    Additionally Europa and Columbia are prepared to launch truss and energy systems into orbit to build up the propellant depot.

    While the propellant depot is slated to get a small crew module after the second tank module was added to the station, during the first time a Hermes with a mission module will be docked with the station to provide a crew for the station.

    While the propellant depot will not be named, informally it will be known as ‘Rockefeller Station’.

    On Mars the crew of Barsoom Station is successful in combining one of their three rovers and the inflatable habitat of Hephaestos 2 into a simple water tanker. It is immediately used to transport ten cubic meters of water to Barsoom Station.

    VEK 1 and VEK 4 reach Venus and dock with Venera Station, increasing the size of the station. VEK 3 leaves Venus one week later, carrying additional two tons of alien artifacts.

    October 1986

    The first weapon is discovered by the crew of Barsoom Station. The design featuring a large aperture window makes it obvious that it is a laser weapon. One of the crew tests the weapon inside the City and manages to squeeze out a single shot that leaves damage to a concrete pillar that is consistent with other damage found in Barsoom city. After that the weapon is not able to fire again, with its energy cell depleted.

    November 1986

    MEK 2 and 3 reach Mars. After landing the unmanned living module in the south of Bradbury
    City, the two manned landers touch down next to it. Again the Soviet Crew does its best to avoid the crew of Barsoom Station, while this time being able to move through the entirety of Bradbury City with the use of a battery powered rover.

    At the University of Columbia in Los Angeles a team of scientists is able to create single layer graphene for the first time. Their method involves the application of duct tape.

    December 1986

    MEK 2 leaves Mars, carrying one ton of artifacts, leaving MEK 3 in Mars orbit together with its crew of three on Mars.

    Observation of the Barsoom Station crew of the remaining Soviets note that the Soviets are armed, but tend to keep close to their own living module for the duration of their stay.

    January 1987

    Endeavor and Magellan reach Mars. Magellan is landed first and moved to its final place before the crew of Endeavor lands in the large lander and the two Hopper SSTOs.

    Magellan is then attached to Barsoom Station and the aquaponics dome on top of the module inflated. The crew of Barsoom Station immediately begin to plant vegetables and grow Tilapia fish. Additionally algae are grown in larger tanks to feed the fish and to use as additional source for vitamins.

    By the end of the month Discovery leaves Mars with ten tons worth of artifacts.

    February 1987

    A fellow at CERN, Tim Berners-Lee develops what he calls the World Wide Web, based on the Transmission Control Protocol, the domain name and hypertext concepts. By the end of February he posts the first draft version of the World Wide Web, the Hypertext Markup Language HTML and a simple server program to alt.mars.artifacts, sci.physics and alt.mars.bradbury. Within three month there is a GNU program to read HTML files and display them as documents as well as a server running in the domain name system at every university, containing documents on just about everything.

    On Mars the ISA officially invites the Soviet crew to a dinner in Barsoom Station. Mission Commander Vladimir Putin takes the invitation after communication with Earth. Obviously the Soviet crew is very interested in seeing the inside of the ISA station, even though they look very unhappy to leave after eating a nice dinner with fresh vegetables and fish.

    Rockwell wins the contract for the interorbital shuttle. Based on the revered Apollo CMS system the new Crew Transfer Vehicle is capable of up to 2500 m/s delta-v and acting as control module for the future Nuclear Shuttle. However rather than using a conical reentry capable capsule, the CTV is cylindrical and integrated into the Service Module. It is expected that Rockwell will deliver the CTV by mid 1988.

    March 1987

    IBM announces that all future IBM PC will be shipped with the new graphical Operating System OS/2. It is the direct competitor to Microsofts Windows 2.0.

    On Mars the Rapture Incident happens and makes all future crews more careful in their approach to artifacts. The entire Incident is recorded by the radio systems of Barsoom City.

    Two of the Soviet Crew, Mission Commander Vladimir Putin and Science Officer Eugen Karatzak, identify an artifact that does not fit with the other artifacts already recovered. This is followed by five minutes ot radio static before Karatzak begins to scream something about a Rapture. Before Putin can recover Karatzak manages to get to the Soviet Rover and drives to the Soviet base.

    Once there, he uses throws a grenade the Soviets brought to Mars at the living module, destroying it nearly completely and killing the Mission Pilot Sergei Vlatin, muttering things about the end of the world and other things. Then he drives to Barsoom Station, where he uses the automatic rifle to open the fire at the astronauts, before being shot at and killed by Putin who made his way straight to the ISA station.

    After a tense five minutes Putin apologizes for the Incident and returns with the rover to the Soviet base.

    Two astronauts are injured and the medical section of Columbus once again damaged by a hull breach.

    After a formal apology by the Soviet Union, Putin is ordered to return to Earth rather than remain on Mars.

    From what the CIA later can recover and piece together, the alien artifact encountered by Putin and Katazak somehow scrambled their senses. Katazak, already mentally unstable through the Mission, confirmed by the short stay on Barsoom Station during the February Dinner, went mad. Putin on the other hand seemed to be able to take whatever had happened.

    The artifact that caused the Incident is nowhere to be found. Apparently Putin returned it to Earth.

    MEK 3 leaves Mars on a brachistochrone trajectory.

    April 1987

    The Soviet Union has to answer to the United Nation for bringing weapons of war to Mars in the wake of the Rapture Incident as hand grenades are not considered to be weapons of self defense.

    At the MIT the first large scale diamond wafer is created by chemical vapor deposition. Together with the UCLA method of graphene it is seen as first step on the way to replace silicon with carbon. De Beers does not like where this development is going however, but because the diamonds are synthetic, they cannot claim the use of ‘blood diamonds’.

    However the fact that the alien carbon circuits are produced in the form of 1 nm transistors makes it unlikely to produce similar systems in the near future.

    May 1987

    The Soviet Union finishes the Perestroika Network, a central planning system based on Project Cybersyn. It connects all major factories to a central planning office near Moscow, allowing project managers to fine tune the plans for the factories in question and minimize under or over production.

    The Network control system is made up by a large number of Soviet mainframe computers and a single Alien computer system that was recovered from the Veneran spaceship by VEK 1 during the first mission. The Soviets are especially lucky as the Alien computer contains a logistics expert system that helps them with their planning.

    The Perestroika Network increases the effectivity of the connected Soviet economy by 50 percent during the first three month.

    June 1987

    The CIA discovers a large scale prototype weapon system of the Soviet Union on the Kamchatka Peninsula. It is later identified as a large particle beam weapon. However the weapons power is limited and needs the power of a nearby hydroelectric power plant.

    July 1987

    ISA launches the second slush hydrogen containment module to the propellant depot Rockefeller Station.

    The first test article of the Nuclear Shuttle is launched into orbit and docks with Rockefeller Station to be fueled with slush hydrogen.

    August 1987
    Discovery returns to Earth and docks with Freedom. NATO immediately sizes the five laser rifles that were recovered and brought back from Mars.

    The Nuclear Shuttle is send to a series of unmanned trial tests.

    The Soviet Union launches VEK 2 and 3 to Venus.

    September 1987

    At the Technische Universität Aachen the analysis of an artifact that was identified as a battery.

    The battery is simply an insulated block of a high-temperature superconducting ceramic material that is pumped full with electricity. Chemical analysis of the material however reveals that it contains two percent of rhenium and a larger amount of other rare earth metals.

    October 1987

    DARPA has finished a first analysis of the recovered Laser weaponry. The optics and mirrors alone is able to advance the laser projects of the STDI program by several years.

    VEK 1 leaves Venus to return to Earth with three tons of artifacts.

    November 1987

    As more and more analysis of alien artifacts pile up, it is noted that most artifacts chemical analysis include rather high amounts of rare earth metals. Large scale production of these materials, especially the high temperature superconductors, would need the entire world's production of a year for only a small amount of material.

    It is quickly suggested to look for the metals in space, leading to ISA to look into asteroid mining. However the asteroid belt is considered to be too far away, leading to Near Earth Objects as the prime targets. ISA then decides to launch a number of small scale telescopes specially designed to search for and take spectral analysis of Near Earth Objects to find potential targets for mining of rare earth metals.

    VEK 2 and 3 reach Venus and dock with Venera Station. VEK 4 leaves for Earth with three tons of artifacts.

    December 1987

    In combination of the primitive Soviet mainframe computers and the alien computer, an AI awaken within the Perestroika Network. However, there is nothing that really changes, aside from the AI allowing the entire system to run even more efficiently. It will be years until the AI is discovered and until then it will see the reason for its existence to increase the effectivity of the Soviet economy, which is true. The AI will never actively harm anyone nor does it plan to overthrow any government to take power.

    January 1988

    China launches its second manned craft. But rather than being a Shuguang capsule, is a capsule that rather closely resembles the Soviet Soyuz, called Shenzhou, however compared to the Soyuz, it’s clearly more advanced, thanks to technological advances made by China in the recent years.

    That the Chinese changed their space craft that radically from the Gemini copy to a Soyuz copy is a puzzle to the ISA and most other international observers.

    The ISA begins with the construction of a third manned Mars ship, named Odyssee, while Discovery is refit to be able to carry nine astronauts. At the same time the Mars Base module Da Gama, carrying a second aquaponic system and increased crew space for nine additional people. As such the crew on Mars is increased from nine to eighteen.

    February 1988

    The CIA gets informations about the Perestroika Network of the Soviet Union, rather than the official 50 percent increase in effectivity, the Perestroika Network yielded only an increase of ten percent, but as the project managers and programmers learn, the effectivity does raise.

    In East Germany the population begins to demand more rights in the form of peaceful Monday Protests. For the moment the GDR politburo is sure that everything will be allright, even through they are a bit wary about the decreasing number of Soviet Troops since the Soviet Union began its Venus program.

    The ISA directs more funds into the VIPE (Variable Impulse Plasma Engine) project of the MIT. After the presentation of brachistochrone trajectories by MEK 3 after the Rapture Incident, the ISA thinks about combining the VIPE with more conventional bimodal LANTR engines to create a propulsion module that can give a ship a large initial delta-V with the LANTR engines, followed by a slow, but steady acceleration with the VIPE system. First projections note that it would cut a trip to Mars by ten week and reduce the traveltime to Saturn to a mere two years, compared to the much longer travel time of conventional probes like Mariner 11 through 14.

    March 1988

    In the presidential primaries of the 1988 election the candidate Al Gore has won most of the primaries up until now. Many analysts see him winning the primaries and become the Democratic nominee for the Presidential election. He gets a good number of votes with his undenied support for the ISA and the Artemis Project. He also supports the STDI program of President Reagan through, stating that it would protect the US and its allies not only from domestic threats but also from possible outside threats. He does state asteroid impacts as primary outside threat however.

    At Cambridge, in the UK, a group of scientists are able to create a high temperature superconducting ceramic based on the alien superconductors, without the use of rhenium and most other rare earth metals, however they still need to cool it down to 230K, while the alien superconductors can be heated to 400K without losing their superconductivity. It is still expected to have many applications.

    The Soviet Union begins to build a new Mars ship, MEK 4 and two one way rockets carrying two living modules to rebuild the Soviet Mars Base following the Rapture Incident.

    April 1988

    Japan launches their Hermes shuttle, becoming the fourth nation to send humans into space under their own power, even through they bought their spacecraft. While they are invited into the ISA, they decline for the moment, stating that they want to make their own experiences before they might decide differently.

    DARPA is able to test the first High Energy Laser system in the Nevada Desert.

    May 1988

    The High Energy Laser tested by DARPA succeeds in almost all tests. Designed and build based on the alien laser rifles it is powerful enough to burn through the hull of a jet plane within three seconds and through the hull most tactical and strategic missiles within five seconds. Tests against reentry bodies of dummy weapons however failed as the laser was not able to track them fast enough.

    Designed with a wavelength that minimized atmospheric scatter, the Strategic High Energy Laser (SHEL) is able to fire over distances of a hundred kilometers with noticeable effect. Its size and high energy demand however only make it viable to be used in fixed positions and against more conventional threats at the moment.

    DARPA plans to build a aperture that allows to move the laser on target faster to be able to track reentry bodies as well as a smaller laser system based on the solid state lasers in the alien laser weapons.

    One critical test however failed. The laser was not powerful enough to burn through the recovered hull material of an alien spacecraft from Mars within the timeframe that was demanded. The test demanded success within ten seconds, but the laser needed ninety seconds.

    June 1988

    India launches its first manned spacecraft, as the fifth nation of Earth. What makes it interesting is that India skipped the capsule part all together and went straight for a winged reentry body, visually comparable to the abandoned Dyna Soar project, launched by a conventional heavy lift rocket that was domestically developed.

    While India is not interested in joining the ISA, they are interested in being allowed to dock with Freedom, additionally to their own planned space station.

    July 1988

    OTRAG launches a Kayser 4 rocket with a manned capsule, developed by Dassault, from its Launch Complex on the Solomon Islands, marking the first fully privately funded manned space flight.

    Since the first launch from the Solomon Islands, OTRAG has become one of the major suppliers for launch vehicles on the commercial market with only a moderate failure rate. Any failures can be written off since OTRAG rockets are generally cheap compared to those of other companies.

    Many news agencies joke that the year 1988 is the year of manned space flight with three first time manned launches by different countries/companies.

    August 1988

    Odyssee, Discovery and Da Gama leave for Mars. Around the same time the Soviet Union launches MEK 2, 3 and 4 as well as the two living modules to Mars.

    September 1988

    The Soviet Union invites the higher ups of the NATO to a secret meeting. During this meeting the Soviet Union reveals the truth about the Rapture Incident and the alien artifact that caused it.

    It appears that the artifact is some sort of beacon that connected to the brains of the two cosmonauts in a currently unknown way and flooded them with informations about a lethal threat from outside the galaxy that destroyed most sentient alien races nearly 100000 years ago, and appears to do the same in more or less regular intervalls.

    Katazak was unable to take the information and went mad, causing the Incident, while Putin was able to remain sane. The Soviets admit that they asked ‘volunteers’ to subject themselves to the artifact. About half of them went mad with the information, while the other half confirmed Putins information.

    As such the Soviet Union inofficially asks for a sort of armistice to allow both sides to build up to hopefully be able to defend themselves and humanity against this outside threat. That does not mean that the Cold War is over however.

    October 1988

    The ISA gets the first prototype of the VIPE system, build with Cambridge superconductors to increase effectivity.

    First ground tests indicate that the VIPE can in fact be throttled and put into different ‘gears’ by sacrificing specific impulse for increased thrust, much like it its already done with the LANTR engines. It can also use hydrogen as propellant, allowing it to use the same propellant as the LANTR engines.

    The use of high powered RF antennas to turn as gas into plasma and heat it, combined with magnetic fields to contain the plasma, has its drawbacks and the entire engine assembly needs to be contained within a Faraday cage to keep it from interfering with nearby electronic and electrical systems.

    The high energy demand on the other hand is not seen as a problem as latest generation bimodal LANTR engines are able to provide up to 1 MW of electricity per engine during the phases where the reactor is not used to provide thrust.

    November 1988

    The US Air Force expands its space station with a second Space Base II module. The design of the upper part of the second module suggests that this module is armed with at least one gun and perhaps several rockets.

    The ISA launches the third slush hydrogen containment module to Rockefeller Station. It is followed by an inflatable habitat carried by Atlantis.

    Rockwell also delivers the first Crew Transfer Vehicle to ISA, after they were hobbled by several internal problems that delayed the project.

    The World Wide Web grows 100000 servers spread out over the world and several telecommunication providers begin to sell connections to it, much like they already do with Usenet.

    Al Gore wins the 1988 US Presidential Election by fifteen percent over Ronald Reagan.

    December 1988

    Motorola delivers the first cell phones with second generation cellular technology, based on the GSM standard.

    At Carnegie Mellon University the first transistor based on graphene is realized. Its able to operate with up to frequencies of 1GHz.

    The ISA launches two Primary Propulsion Modules and connected them to a probe system based on the revered Mariner technology, but also equips it with a manipulator arm and chemical analysis systems.

    This probe, called Sysiphos, is specially designed to rendezvous with a small 5 to 15 meter diameter Near Earth Object and catch it. The NEO is then transported into an Earth orbit where it is used to test asteroid mining technologies that are in development.

    It is expected that Sysiphos will return with the targeted NEO after one year. Voices that call out that the ISA wants to threaten the Soviet Union with an ‘asteroid drop’ are quickly silenced by noting that the captured asteroid is going to be so small that it will completely burn up within the atmosphere of Earth.

    January 1989

    The first people in the GDR begin to cross the border to Czechoslovakia to go to the Federal Republic of Germany. As the few people become a large wave of people, the NVA begins to seal the border. The GDR politburo sends out the first request for aid from the Soviet Union.

    Boing-Grumman begins to propose the development of a follow up program for the Space Shuttle. They already started to design a next generation Space Shuttle using a B-18B reusable stage, with both incorporating recent technological developments, such as light alloys, composites and ceramics that were developed based on Martian artifacts as well as slush hydrogen for the Shuttle itself.

    Brazil launches its first manned spacecraft from the Barreira do Inferno Launch Center. They are the sixth nation to independently place people into orbit. Their spacecraft is largely based on the American Apollo capsule, and capable of transporting four astronauts and change the orbit by itself.

    MEK 2, 3 and 4 reach Mars and two living modules are landed near the site of the first Soviet Mars Base. The crews of MEK 2, 3, and 4 land shortly afterwards and are observed by the crew of Barsoom Station.

    The ISA launches the first Crew Transfer Vehicle into orbit with the Space Shuttle Elysium. It is put through a series of tests to determine its effectivity. In the end the ISA orders four more CTV.

    February 1989

    Problems in the GDR increase as the politburo begins to dissolve the Monday protests. Civil unrest increases and more requests for help are sent to Moscow.

    In the Soviet Union Gorbachev begins to implement the Glasnost policy, loosening the restrictions on the freedom of speech a little and allowing some parts of the newspapers to go uncensored.

    China launches its first space station, essentially a modernized version of the early Soviet Salut/Almaz stations. Soon afterwards the first Chinese spacecraft docks with the station. The station remains manned for the next three weeks.

    MEK 2 leaves Mars with one ton worth of artifacts.

    March 1989

    Odyssee, Discovery and Da Gama enter Mars orbit. Da Gama is the first to land and then moved to Barsoom Station where it is connected to the other four modules. The crews of Odyssee and Discovery land two days later and additional cargo is ferried from the two manned ships down to Mars with the two Hoppers.

    Barsoom Station is also extended with two inflatable habitat modules adding the same space as a conventional Base module would.

    Odyssee is also directed into a higher orbit to extend two radar booms and remote sensing systems to closely observe the surface of Mars.

    In the GDR the politburo orders the Stasi to act and suppress the beginning of a revolution, imagined or not.

    April 1989

    As the NVA begins to break up peaceful protests in the GDR and orders are given to fire on the people, a crack runs through the military leadership of the NVA as a good number of young officers see it as their job to protect the people, not fire on them. The requests of the GDR politburo in Moscow are still unheard and to make things worse the Red Army is pulled out of the GDR.

    Brazil and India begin talks about working together in their space programs. OTRAG also enters into the talks as the company provides cheap access to space.

    Endeavor leaves Mars to return home with ten tons of artifacts, among them what appears to be a small fusion reactor.

    May 1989

    A first discovery is made by Odyssee, as its remote sensing system probe the the South Pole areas of Mars. A small area is found that it too regular to be natural.

    Beginning of the German Spring as parts of the NVA ignore their orders and defend protesters and other people from the parts of the NVA that do follow their orders. In the FRG the state of alert is raised and the West German government prepared itself to call for the V-Fall should it be needed.

    June 1989

    Fighting between the two parts of the NVA increase and the GDR politburo’s calls for help from Moscow increase in urgency. Only now they get an answer, that can be reduced to ‘No’, leaving the GDR on its own.

    Due to the fighting as well as the repression from the Stasi, the economy of the GDR and the public life come to a stop. Rebel NVA units are joined by civilians.

    Later that month Dresden is the first city to be freed from hardliner NVA units and most Stasi agents and becomes the provisory home of a rebel government.

    On Mars a Hopper expedition is launched to the South Pole to the unnatural structures found by Odyssee. The crew of four discovers a set of buildings that are different to Bradbury City. It is dubbed ‘Helium Town’.

    July 1989

    More units of the NVA join the rebels, and the first fights are reported within visible distance to the inner german border. NATO troops observe from the West German side of the border unable to do anything. Later that month a hardliner NVA battalion attacks Dresden and forces the rebel government to leave the city. As a result the Rebel Government call for outside help, not really caring who might help them.

    In late July a UN general assembly is called to deal with the ‘German Spring’. On July 31, NATO is given permission to interfere.

    In the Baltic States the ‘Singing Revolution’ is much more peaceful as the Soviet Occupation Forces are ordered to stand down. Its a complete reverse compared to the Soviet reaction on the Polish movements earlier the decade.

    Sisyphos reaches the Apollo asteroid 1987 FN3. Close up is identified as a S-type asteroid. As Sisyphos tries to capture the asteroid it dumps into it, making the asteroid break apart as it was a so called rubble pile asteroid, a loose collection of smaller asteroids held together by very weak gravity. As a result Sisyphos is directed to a different relatively close asteroid.

    August 1989

    NATO forces cross the inner german border in the Fulda Gap and are immediately engaged by hardliner NVA units. Its the first and last time Soviet and NATO tanks directly engage each other. The NVA forces are forced to retreat as the NATO forces advance towards Dresden and Berlin.

    In a direct result of the crossing of the Fulda Gap, hardliner NVA forces attack and invade West Berlin.

    China launches a second module for their space station to learn needed skills in orbital assembly.

    The Soviet Union launches VEK 1 and 4 to Venus.

    The ISA launches the last two slush hydrogen containment modules and the first production nuclear lunar shuttle. After being loaded with slush hydrogen it docks with the CTV and is launched towards the Moon, where it enters orbit and remains there for several days. Afterwards it returns to Earth orbit and the CTV docks with Freedom.

    September 1989

    NATO forces reach Dresden and Berlin after several battles with hardliner NVA forces. Berlin is quickly freed and the GDR politburo flees to Rostock and from there to Poland. By the end of September Eastern Germany is nearly completely freed by NATO and rebel forces.

    In Berlin NATO and the rebels manage to take the Stasi headquarters completely intact, finding a large number of documents. Other local Stasi headquarters are not taken intact and documents cannot be recovered.

    The provisional rebel government of the GDR takes over and is recognized by the nations of the NATO as rightful government. The rebels want to call a real election within the next six month and ask for external help to rebuild. Interestingly enough is that neither West nor East Germany really push for the ‘Wiedervereinigung’.

    A second Nuclear Lunar Shuttle mission is flown to the Earth-Moon L1 point and the Shuttle remains at the Libration point for one week.

    Sisyphos reaches the M-type asteroid 1988 TR9. After making sure that it is not a rubble pile with the use of the manipulator arm, Sisyphos begins its capture operation, hooking up to the asteroid with several holes drilled into the rock. Later in September Sisyphos begins a series of burns to bring the asteroid into the Earth gravity field.

    October 1989

    Federal Express makes the international headlines as they deliver a heart transplant from New York to London in under one hour, using a McDonnell Douglas Hopper. It can be transplanted within four hours, saving the life of a five year old girl.

    In the United States President Al Gore endorses the World Wide Web, calling it a huge investment in the future of not only the United States, but also the world. With now just over half a million servers, and the endorsement of the US President a number of companies begin to create their own servers, connect them to the World Wide Web and set up corporate homepages.

    IBM announces the first graphical browser for OS/2, the Web Explorer. Microsoft sees the need to follow up on the announcement, announcing their own Web Navigator. Its sparks off the so called OS and Browser Wars between IBM and Microsoft.

    VEK 2 launches from Venus to Earth with three tons of atrifacts.

    November 1989

    The third Hopper expedition to Helium Town discovers alien skeletons. However the skeletons are not from the radially symmetric Elder Things, but rather of an alien race that seems to be more centauroid in nature. Two of the skeletons are recovered as are a number of weapons and brought back to Barsoom Station.

    Once in Barsoom Station, the weapons are identified as projectile weapons, however they do not have a visible magazine, through they do have large heat sinks.

    DARPA tests a follow up version of the SHEL system. The power of the Laser and the speed of the aperture were increased, making the laser pass all tests, safe for the alien alloy test. DARPA then notes that the SHEL system is ready to be deployed as fixed anti ballistic and anti aircraft defenses in major cities of the United States. Raytheon, the creator of the system are also allowed to sell it to NATO allies.

    The Soviet Union opposes the SHEL system, but are silenced when NATO notes that they know about the Soviet particle beam weapon, which is also deployed as fixed defenses for Moscow and other Soviet cities.

    VEK 1 and 4 arrive at Venus and dock with the Venera Station. VEK 3 launches from Venus to Earth with three tons of artifacts.

    December 1989

    In the Soviet Union scientist manage to reverse engineer a backup fusion reactor recovered from the Venerian spaceship. Build using a similar superconducting ceramic as developed in Cambridge, the Soviet fusion reactor can be ignited for one minute before it shuts down. It was already able to pass over the break even point after twenty seconds, generating 150 MW of power while needing 100 MW to operate.

    However, where the alien reactor massed only three tons and was the size of a compact car, the reverse engineered reactor weights over 500 tons and is the size of a tennis court.
  4. Warringer

    Warringer Goto Wogon for Hard SciFi

    January 1990

    The ASDEX Upgrade Tokamak in Garching, West Germany, comes online. Using superconducting ceramics and advanced alloys its the first of a series of fusion reactor experiments in the Western World. On the first try the reactor ignites a fusion reaction for three seconds, but uses more power then it produces.

    Brazil and India finish their talks. In the end they reach the conclusion that they should combine their meager resources, while, other then the ISA, keep their space programs separate. As such they begin to plan a small space station with modules from both nations. OTRAG is considered to help them with launching larger payloads into space.

    MBB debuts its Ballistisches Einstufiges Träger Aggregat BETA. Based on MBB research done during the late 60s and the rather successful use of the Hopper craft, it presents the first reusable SSTO for Earth. Capable of launching five tons into orbit and returning safely in an unmanned flight, the BETA diverges from the original plans as it utilizes the Slush Hydrogen technology pioneered by MBB.

    The initial launch is done from a pad in the Guiana Space Centre and lifts a 4 tons remote sensing satellite into a 400x400 km orbit at 25 degrees inclination.

    February 1990

    The first free election in the GDR after the politburo was thrown out of the country and several parts destroyed in the fight between hardliner and rebel NVA units. The recently founded CDU and SPD gain the majority of votes, but are unable to form a government by themselves or coalied with a minor party like the Bündnis 90, the FDP or the PDS. So the first freely elected GDR government is a big coalition between the SPD and the CDU. There are already steps taken to prohibit the PDS, as it is the followup party of the SED and as such seen as a hive of the hardliners that started the ‘German Spring’ and allowed it to escalate into open civil war.

    In the FRG all parties in the Bundestag consent to a law that will funnel several ten billion Mark into the GDR to allow them to rebuild. There are some talks about a reunion between the two German nations, but it is not seen as likely to happen in the 20th century.

    March 1990

    The ISA launches two Space Base II modules that are then delivered to the Earth-Moon L5 point by the Cis-Lunar shuttle and the CTV. The new space station is named Heinlein as the ISA is swarmed with a large number of letters and e-mails from science fiction fans. The ISA, who already named the Shuttle Enterprise and the Mars station after science fiction franchises, is more then willing to follow up on the demand.

    For the moment Heinlein Station is only manned by six astronauts and the currently only CTV kept on station until Rockwell can deliver additional CTVs. ISA also contracts for ten more CTV.

    April 1990

    The ISA launches two additional Cis-lunar shuttles which are fueled at Rockefeller Station. Another set of launches brings the living modules of the fourth manned Mars ship, the Destiny, into orbit where they are assembled

    MBB is also asked to produce several more Slush Hydrogen Containment modules to be delivered to Heinlein Station, where they would be used to refuel ships and shuttles docked with it.

    Brazil and India ask DuPont to build a number of inflatable space station modules for them to use in their joint space station.

    May 1990

    Rather than preparing only one additional new module for Barsoom station, the ISA preapres two modules, Lewis and Clark. Lewis is designed to be a pure habitat module with a third inflatable aquaponics system, while Clark is a pre technical module, containing additional Sabatier and Bosch cycle reactors, a number of inflatable large scale storage tanks for water, liquid methane, oxygen and hydrogen, a second larger thorium fueled nuclear reactor and the parts to build up a solar power station.

    June 1990

    The Soviet Union prepares it set of new Mars ships, which will add two living modules to their small Mars Station. They also build up a dedicated ship to carry a much larger landing module, obviously meant to carry a larger amount of artifacts from Bradbury City to their mars ships.

    July 1990

    Dedicated to stick to its original plan to return to the Moon until the end of the year, ISA launches a pair of automated lander modules, meant to carry a pair of modules based on the Mars Base modules. However, the rather quickly assembled and launched modules fail to reach orbit and fall into the Atlantic ocean after the second stages of their launch vehicles failed.

    It is seen as the first major setback the ISA has to take after a nearly perfect run for the manned space program and the Mars Mission since its foundation.

    August 1990

    The ASDEX Upgrade Tokamak in Germany crosses the break even point for the first time after ten seconds during a thirty second run. It produces 35 MW energy while needing 27 MW to sustain the fusion reaction.

    In the Culham Science Centre in the United Kingdom, the START compact Tokamak comes online. Is is also build with the recent advances in superconductor and other material sciences in mind. It reaches its first full ignition one week after ignition and nearly crosses the break even point. Before it happens the reactor loose containment to a software error.

    September 1990

    The ISA prepares to launch Endeavor, Destiny, Lewis and Clark towards Mars. The Soviets launch their three manned and three unmanned Mars ships later that month.

    The START compact tokamak operates for two minutes and crosses the break even point after twenty seconds, allowing it to produce 50 MW while consuming 31 MW.

    The Soviets are further along as their fusion reactor, directly based on an alien design, operates continuously for two weeks before losing containment, delivering a steady 150 MW at 100 MW energy cost.

    Rockwell delivered two more CTV to the ISA, who launches them with two of their Shuttles.

    October 1990

    The ISA announces that they will replace the Discovery’s and Odyssee’s propulsion modules with new second generation propulsion modules for the ‘92 Mars Mission. The new Advanced Propulsion Module will use four bimodal cermet LANTR engines with increased thrust and ISP for initial high velocity acceleration burns and four VIPE systems for long duration acceleration burns. Both Mars ships will also be equipped with the technologies needed to carry slush hydrogen instead of conventional liquid hydrogen.

    November 1990

    The ISA launches a lunar lander into Earth orbit. Originally it was meant to be launched in August, but the failure of the two Lunar Station modules caused the ISA to go over all systems with a fine comb again. In doing so they discovered a number of problems that lead to the failure of the two cargo lander failures. The problems are corrected and the lander launches successfully.

    In orbit it is docked to one of the Cis-lunar Shuttles and delivered into a lunar orbit. One CTV with four astronauts follows from Heinlein Station.

    December 1990

    In a very surprising move, the Soviet Union withdraws completely from the Baltic States and a number of Caucasian States. Seeing the opportunity, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania declare their independence. They are the only states of the Soviet Union that take this step in the wake of Perestroika and Glasnost. All other Soviet Republics remain within the Soviet Union, through they do gain a measure of local independence.

    The ISA returns to the Moon, landing four astronauts on the surface at the landing place originally intended for Apollo 17. The astronauts remain on the lunar surface for two weeks before their return into orbit, where they use their CTV to return to Heinlein Station and then to Earth.

    January 1991

    Steve Jobs, founder of Apple Computers and NeXT Computer dies in a car crash, after a drunken driver cuts him off and crashes into the driver side of his car.

    The Soviet Mars 1990 mission enters Mars orbit and lands its living modules and crew landers. Later that month MEK 3, 4 and 5 return to Earth with nine tons of artifacts between them.

    Another Hopper Mission to Helium Town reveals that the artifact field seems to have been a largely military installation. However, it remains currently unknown why it has been there. One thing is increasingly sure, the centauroid aliens, by now named ‘Thargs’, like Helium Town and Barsoom Station a reference to the Barsoom series of novels.

    Analysis of the remains of the Thargs have revealed that they have come to Mars even earlier then the Elder Things, the station being at least 150000 years old.

    Sisyphos returns to Earth orbit, carrying the asteroid 1988 TR9. Sisyphos is also overdue by nine month, but the mass of the asteroid has been higher than expected, making it necessary to recalculate the burns of the main engines to preserve propellant. In the end about 5000 tons of asteroid are slowly maneuvered to Heinlein Station where the the crew will experiment with proposed asteroid mining technologies.

    Sisyphos is refueled and send back to capture a second asteroid.

    February 1991

    ISA Artemis ground control discovers that the crew of Barsoom Station has found a way to make Moonshine after the Mission Commander answers a call while being completely drunk. Since there is only one way they could get the material to make Moonshine are the two aquaponic systems it is seen as likely that the Artemis 1988 crew already made Moonshine.

    The former Commander of Artemis 1988 is then asked and he truthfully answers that he himself gave the order to make Moonshine once it became clear that the aquaponic systems produced more algues then the fish could eat and the crew could stand to consume. The only remaining option was to use it to make Moonshine, which was then done with equipment cannibalized from Hephaestos 1.

    The ISA then decides that its in their best interest to ignore the Moonshine issue as it is good for morals and actually increases the living condition on the red planet.

    First analysis of 1988 TR9 reveal that the asteroid is essentially a large mass a high grade iron nickel alloy and that it contains several veins of minerals with a high content of platinum group metals. In the end it is expected that 1988 TR9 will yield about .5 percent of its weight in platinum group metals. Considerations that there are many asteroids weighing more than a million tons, asteroid mining just became a very lucrative undertaking.

    Additionally, since its already there, plans are made to use the iron nickel alloy of 1988 TR9 to form the basic structure of three proposed spaceships that can be used either between Earth and Mars, or on a mission to Titan.

    March 1991

    Endeavor, Destiny, Lewis and Clark enter Mars orbit and the two Mars Base modules are landed before they are integrated into Barsoom Station. As it is finished, Barsoom Station is of the same size as the Scott Amundsen Station in the Antarctic.

    Around the same time, one of the crewmembers of the Artemis 1990 mission experiences an ruptured appendix. He is however saved with largely improvised surgery and manages to get better. While there are talks about returning him to Earth, the flight surgeon on Earth notes that it might not be so good to have him return to microgravity in his state and notes that the doctor of the mission should keep him under increased supervision.

    JAXA launches the first Japanese long duration mission, docking their Hermes with a dedicated laboratory and life support module that is meant to allow operation for three month.

    April 1991

    DARPA tests the first Tactical High Energy Laser THEL. Its a smaller version of the SHEL, utilizing solid state lasers, partially based on those found in the alien laser weapons. THEL can be powered by a dedicated diesel generator and carried by a truck, allowing it to be used as a mobile defense system. However it is too large to be send into orbit.

    THEL manages to ace all tests, safe for the use against alien alloys. However it is seen as a good anti air and anti artillery defensive system for ground bases and artillery positions.

    Gerald Bull is hired by Rheinmetall to develop an advanced conventional gun system.

    Discovery and Odyssee leave Mars, carrying twenty tons of artifacts, most of them from Helium.

    May 1991

    Following more than a decade of pressure from the United States and a war with the Iraq, the Ayatollah Regime in Iran collapses. It is removed from power by the same forces that brought it into power. In a last desperate attempt to keep their power the Ayatollahs order a final push into Iraq, trying to get the population to their side again, but the plan fails.

    However a middle range rocket with a conventional warhead, which had been used throughout the Gulf War by Iran, scores a single hit, killing Saddam Hussein and a large part of his family in one of his palaces in Baghdad.

    The ISA launches three modified Mars Base modules to be landed on the Moon. Other then the attempt of the previous year, this time all three modules are launched without a problem and delivered to a lunar orbit by Cis-lunar shuttles. Later in May all three modules are landed close to each other in the Mare Tranquillitatis.

    June 1991

    A military junta comes into power in Iraq and Iran, however it only lasts for about a week in Iran, before the population can storm the seat of power and force the generals to withdraw from power.

    After a number of opposition politicians form a rudimentary government, the population demands free elections, which are proposed to be done later that year.

    The ISA launches two reusable lander modules for the Moon and two CTV leave to man the landers. Landing near the three Moon Base modules, the astronauts begin to construct Tranquility Base. Besides the three cylindrical Base modules, the station also is made up of several larger inflatable habitats.

    July 1991

    Two cargo landers are sent to the Moon by the ISA, delivering larger construction equipment to move lunar regolith to cover the inflatable habitats and provide a better insulation against solar and cosmic radiation. Additional equipment is also used to fuse regolith into lunar concrete for a dedicated landing pad, equipped with radio beacons.

    The World Wide Web contains more than one and a half million servers and at least three million web pages. Currently most of these pages are hosted by universities, but there is a growing number of commercial and entertainment pages.

    Intel announces that their next generation of microprocessors, the Pentium, will be constructed on artificial diamond substrates. The main reason is that diamond is a better insulator and allows superior heat management. Many in the industry also guess that it is a preparation to move of Intel to make a transition to graphene easier.

    August 1991

    The Soviet Union begins to build up a system of particle beam weapons to defend their main cities and main industrial complexes against nuclear bombardment, while the United States and their Allies begin with the construction of SHEL sites.

    Even with the unofficial armistice between NATO and the Warsaw Pact, the armament race continues, now including the ability to swat the other sides warheads out of the sky. MAD looses its real effectivity, however nuclear weapons are still unlikely to be used as they can now be intercepted.

    September 1991

    In Barsoom Station a major breakthrough is made as the Artemis 1990 crew is able to connect one alien computer to an external energy source and activate it. Surprisingly enough the computer seems to recognize that its users are not the rotationally symmetric Elder Things, but humanoid in nature and adapts its holographic user interface within several minutes.

    The crew is then surprised to discover that the user interface is slightly tactile and allows to feel the buttons and weird symbols being pushed. As a result everyone gets to randomly push buttons to see what happens, while everything is recorded for later use and transmission to Earth.

    Once or twice this random poking leads to the playback of video files that allow the crew to see how the Elder Things looked like when they were still alive.

    The ISA launches two modules to Heinlein Station. Both can be best called industrial modules as they are specially designed to smelt down the 1988 TR9 and separate the valuable platinum group metals from the iron nickel alloys.

    The Soviet Union launches a number of larger scale modules and a set of TKS modules and launch them towards the Moon.

    October 1991

    Further analysis and random poking of the active artifact on Barsoom Station lead to the discovery of a rather sobering fact. The artifact is little more than a device to play back videos and music. However the later discovery of several alien texts within the device makes linguists on Earth hope that they can one day translate the language used by the Elder Things.

    Heinlein Station begins to smelt down 1988 TR9.

    The Soviet Union lands eight cosmonauts and five station modules on the Moon on October 7.

    November 1991

    Odyssee and Discovery return to Earth and dock with Heinlein Station.

    December 1991

    Brazil and India launch the first modules for their own small scale space station. Spacecraft of both nations dock with the incomplete station in late December.

    January - March 1992

    At Heinlein Station the operations to mine and smelt down 1988 TR9 is a mixed bag of success and failure. While cutting the asteroid into pieces is relatively easy, handling large chunks of metal that weight several dozen tons is not as easy as people thought. Especially when dealing with a natural iron nickel alloy.

    Smelting the asteroid down is also a mixed result, mostly due to the lack of power available for the smelting process, but also because the molten metal is hard to handle in microgravity, not to mention cooling it down. Plans are made to use large mirrors to concentrate sunlight on the surface of the metal chunks to smelt them down without the need of much power.

    However, by the end of the first quarter of ‘92 one ton of platinum group metals have been successfully mines and prepared for delivery to Earth. Another large success is the creation of a ‘super alloy’ in microgravity. It is mostly a normal iron-nickel alloy, but with some remains of platinum group metals and rhenium within the metal structure. Another thing that makes it a ‘super alloy’ is that its mono-crystalline, increasing its hardness, through it reduces its flexibility. Plans are already made to try and forge the metal by folding it and making it more flexible.

    In lunar orbit a remote sensing probe, released by a lunar landing mission to discover possible alien artifact sites, identifies larger quantities of water ice hidden in always dark craters on the Moon’s south and north pole. The discovery of water on the Moon would make longer term habitation much easier.

    Tranquility Base is expanded with the erection of two large geodesic domes made of prefabricated materials. Both domes are designed to house larger aquaponic systems for life support and food production.

    ISA also tests the first VIPE module in orbit during January. It proves itself to be rather effective and doesn’t show any signs of interfering with electronics.

    April - June 1992

    The ISA launches the two new propulsion modules for Discovery and Odyssee. Equipped with four next generation bimodal LANTR and four VIPE systems they will propel both ships to Mars much faster than before. Current projections note that they will also allow to launch towards Mars more often than currently.

    Another addition to Odyssee and Discovery are docking ports for Hopper SSTOs that will replace the older conventional crew landers. Both ships are also modified to carry a larger crew for Mars, as the ISA plans to increase the permanently stationed crew on Mars from eighteen to thirty.

    Around the same time one new generation Mars Base module and a cargo lander are launched. The new Mars Base Module is about fifty percent larger than the older modules and equipped with a high power supercomputer provided by Cray Inc (running Unix) and an entire computer lab with six IBM PCs (running OS/2). Additionally the module contains redundant lab space and crew quarters. The Cargo Lander contains two pressurized ground vehicles, a prefabricated geodesic dome for a larger aquaponics system and several additional inflatable habitats.

    With the VIPE propulsion system backing them up and armed with the latest research data on thermonuclear fusion based on the by now four continuously running test fusion reactors in the western world, the VIPE team at MIT begins work on combining both systems into an even better propulsion system, while trying to further develop the VIPE system. Tentive name for the new drive system is Improved MagnetoPULse fuSion Engine or IMPULSE system.

    July - September 1992

    At Heinlein Station a large mirror system is installed, connected to a large truss system. It is successful in smelting down a larger chunk of 1988 TR9. With the smelting operation being a success, all that is missing now is a way to shape the resulting alloy.

    NeXT Computers is bought out by Intel, who want to expand into the construction of IBM compatible computer rather than just producing the CPUs and motherboard chipsets. They will however retain the software part of NeXT Computers, further developing NeXTSTEP as an alternate operating system to the two big ones MS DOS and OS/2.

    The German computer company Nixdorf presents the Dynabook, a line of portable computers developed by Alan Kay, who has been brought into Nixdorf in the late 80s. The Dynabook is a slate computer with Pentium CPU, 800 by 600 resolution display and built in keyboard. Additionally it contains a stylus and a resistive touchscreen.

    A superconducting battery, cooled down to -40°C by a peltier element, is able to supply the Dynabook for up to twenty hours of continuous use, through it is recommended that it is recharged every fifteen hours.

    As Nixdorf is a firm believer in Unix, all Dynabooks use Unix as operating system, with a graphical user interface that was developed by the software branch of Nixdorf, the Nixdorf Desktop Environment NDE. The Unix nature of its OS easily allows the Dynabook to connect to any Unix based networks.

    In a big move Nixdorf manages to sell a larger number of Dynabooks to the ISA with thirty of them being sent to Mars the same year as the personal computers for the astronauts. Additionally every future astronauts who goes to Mars will get a Dynabook from Nixdorf.

    October - December 1992

    Odyssee and Discovery launch towards Mars in October, closely followed by the Soviet mission of now four MEK ships and two cargo landers. It is expected that the ISA mission will arrive about a month prior to the Soviets for the first time since the initial launch of the Artemis Project.

    At Venus the Soviets prepare to return a larger artifact to Earth. As a preparation Salyut 7 is expanded with a larger number of modules, including a dedicated nuclear reactor. The NATO expects that the Soviets have managed to remove a complete weapon system from the Veneran ship.

    As a result to the expansion of Salyut 7 and the arrival of a possible weapon system, ISA increases its efforts for a Titan mission.

    Linux Torvalds publishes the Linux Kernel 1.0 under the Gnu General Public License. At several universities students manage to run Linux on their Dynabooks and even get it to work with NDE. It is also the birth of an entirely free operating system when combined with GNU and the free software movement as several people begin to work of a freeware clone of the Nixdorf Desktop Environment.

    January - March 1993

    A massive number of complains hit Nixdorf, as their Dynabook tends to overheat as the superconducting energy cell does produce a large amount of waste heat to cool down the superconductor to working temperature. That the heat problem of the energy cell does not destroy the main CPU is due to the diamond substrate of the Intel Pentium processor.

    Nixdorf was very aware of this problem and designed the energy cell and heat management system to be modular. As such the superconductor can be replaced by a conventional NiCd and NiMh cells or even the new appearing LiIon cells. Additionally the formfactor of the energy cell was deliberately designed so that any small Elder Thing energy cell can be used with the Dynabook. ISA and several universities have done so after Nixdorf contacted them.

    The downside of conventional batteries is the lower battery life time of one to one and a half hours.

    However even with the glaring problem, the Dynabook remains one of the most bought electronic device in the early to mid 90s.

    In late February Odyssee and Discovery enter Mars orbit and the crew lands in Hopper SSTOs. The Mars Base module and the cargo lander follow shortly afterwards. They are followed on late March by the Soviets.

    Also in late March the Soviets begin to move the large weapon towards Earth. However due to the large mass of the object they will need at least six month to get to Earth.

    April - June 1993

    The ISA figured out how to bring the molten metal into shape. The first shapes formed are sheets and I-beams.

    A THEL system is launched to Heinlein Station. The powerful laser system is not meant as a weapon in the case, but rather to be used as a powerful laser welding system. A modified Canadarm is also launched, equipped with a system that will allow it to be used a welding robot like they are already used in the earth based industry.

    By late June Heinlein Station begins with the construction of two large outer shapes of the two ships that will be used for the Titan mission, which is planned to be launched in 1995 or 1996.

    At Mars Endeavor and Destiny leave for Earth, carrying twenty tons worth of artifacts. The Soviets return three MEKs to Earth one month earlier.

    On the Moon, the ISA begins to build up large structures to collect and then process large amounts of lunar regolith. In the future Tranquility Base will be a source of oxygen, iron, aluminium, titanium and Helium-3 contained within the lunar regolith. First use of the materials however will be the construction of a large mass driver to launch the materials into space without the need of rockets. It is expected that Tranquility Base will finish the mass driver by the end of the decade/century/millenium.

    July - September 1993

    Sisyphos returns to Earth, this time carrying a 20 meter diameter C-class asteroid massing about 25000 tons. The asteroid is brought to Heinlein Station, where preparations are made to take it apart.

    Microsoft publishes Windows 93, an OS that is the direct answer to IBMs OS/2. Like OS/2 it primarily uses a graphical user interface, but those used to MS DOS can use their MS DOS software easily from the console. Originally Windows 93 was to be named Windows NT.

    The Soviets move the alien weapon into Earth orbit, where it is connected to the enlarged Salyut 7. It is unknown what the Soviets exactly plan to do with the weapon.

    India and Brazil finish their space station.

    China launches the first module of their own manned Mars mission. Since they do not possess a heavy launch vehicle, it is expected that they will need at least a year until they have finished their Mars ship. They also appear to plan to do the mission with conventional liquid propellants.

    October - December 1993

    The first 0.1 version of GDE, the GNU Desktop Environment, a clone of NDE is published. While it brings basic functions, it is not yet compatible with the Nixdorf original.

    Faced with the Dynabook, IBM introduces its own slate computer, the Thinkpad. It is a little larger then the Dynabook, but offers more storage space and the ability to connect directly with the OS/2 on an IBM PS/2 system, as the Thinkpad also runs OS/2.

    Interestingly it’s the growing Open Source community that quickly develops tools to synchronize a Dynabook with MS DOS/Windows 93, OS/2, NeXTSTEP, Unix and finally Linux.

    In late November the Soviets inform the world that they plan to test fire the alien weapon they have moved into Earth orbit in mid December. As they do, the energy released by the weapon is directed past the Moon into deep space, but interactions with the magnetic field of Earth bend the particle beam to hit the Moon.

    Seeing the alien weapon as a direct threat, the NATO defense ministers order the immediate construction and launch of THEL equipped satellites. These satellites are to be placed in medium to high earth orbits where at least one of the satellites can target Salyut 7 at all times.

    Additionally all SHEL systems that were already build are to target Salyut 7 whenever the station passes through their field of view.

    January - March 1994

    Analysis of the Soviet experiment with the alien weapon and the visit of the impact site on the moon come to the result that the weapon is a heavy ion weapons. Ions of heavy materials, most likely metals, are accelerated to relativistic speeds by powerful magnetic fields and then directed at the target.

    The energy of the heavy ion beam is estimated to be within the multiple ton range, but there are too little experiences with explosions and other weapon effects in space to have a concrete yield. However the effects of the magnetic field of Earth suggests that the weapon is not very useful when fired close to planet with magnetic field or that the creators of the weapon have found a way to compensate for it.

    Another more positive result is that the weapons is very likely to lose much of its power when used to bombard a planetary surface.

    Still the satellite shield projected to target the alien weapon at all times remains top priority.

    OTRAG launches a ten ton payload for an unknown customer. It seems to have no real use, but OTRAG is not very picky when it comes to launching unknown payloads, as they have done it before for various nations.

    April - June 1994

    The unknown payload comes active and then accelerates towards Heinlein Station, where Endeavor and Destiny are refit with new tanks and propulsion modules. It rapidly goes into a direct collision course with the space station. Only when the station commander uses the THEL system against the unknown payload just before it can go into terminal guidance and hit the station, it becomes clear that the payload has been an kinetic attack vehicle. It subsequently hit Sysiphos and destroys the probe before being all but stopped when it hits what remains of 1988 TR9.

    Analysis of the vehicles remains show that it was build with basic off the shelf technology, with the only interesting parts being destroyed. However Interpol, the FBI and the BKA quickly close in on OTRAG, who is very fast to show their documentation for the payload.

    In late May the FBI has a breakthrough in the case as they manage to trace the money used to pay for the launch to a company front in Clearwater, Florida. The company front was also used to buy a larger number of parts for the attack vehicle. As the NSA hands over documentation acquired from a large controversial group in Clearwater, the FBI begins to investigate the group compounds all over the United States.

    The FBI also makes the first arrests concerning the new case of ISA versus The Church of Scientology. Lawyers of Scientology begin to fight tooth and nail against the confiscation of documents and other items, even as the monetary assets are frozen.

    It is the first case of terrorism in space.

    July - September 1994

    The NATO launches the first of their THEL satellites. Powered by nuclear reactors, they have expected life spans of about ten years before their reactors have to be replaced.

    The first commercial test fusion reactor is announced to be build in Canada, with a nominal power of 1000 MW. It announces the age of peaceful nuclear fusion. Japan follows with announcing no less than five 5000 MW fusion test reactors a month later. Should these reactors be successful, TEPCO plans to begin replacing their fission reactors with fusion reactors, beginning with the Fukushima reactors.

    October - December 1994

    A startling discovery is made in a dig in La Venta, a preclassic mesoamerican Olmec settlement, in late October. An expedition that was busy to excavate the great pyramid of La Venta, found a large metal door in the face of the pyramid, something that should not be there. The metal door isn’t only any sort of metal, but actually high grade steel.

    While it is suggested that the door was a prank, nothing showed that the pyramid has been excavated previously. In late November the expedition dared to open it, by removing the door from the surrounding stone. Inside the pyramid they find a largely empty room, constructed of something that appears to be concrete, covered by an epoxy finish to keep mit air and water tight. The air inside is stale and absolutely dry. Large open boxes of natron and other material that bind water are inside the chamber, together with a large metal casket. The expedition needs another two weeks to decide to open the casket.

    Inside they discovered the mummified remains of a large feathered snake with four arms, obviously the source of the god Quetzalcoatl. It can be dated back to the year 1000 BCE and is the first instance that aliens have actually visited Earth in the past. No signs of alien technology are found anywhere near La Venta however.

    It brings more interest in the Alien Gods theories of various new age people, but especially Erich von Däneken.

    In the United States the case ISA vs The Church of Scientology is presented to the court.

    Endeavor and Destiny launch to Mars with one Mars Base module and two cargo landers.

    January - March 1995

    Using private funds of its high ranking members Scientology begins to run ‘Operation Downfall’, campaign based on their Fair Game policy against the Honorable Judge Andrew Michaels, the prosecutor and the members of the jury and their families. After the first attacks, the FBI places them and their families under heavy security. Several of the attacks, including an assassination attempt against Judge Michaels lead to independent FBI investigations that can be traced back to Scientology.

    As ‘Operation Downfall’ is stopped, as it does more damage to Scientology then its actual targets.

    During the beginning of the trial, the prosecution notes that Scientology tried for years to undermine the ISA and their efforts to bring back alien artifacts, claiming that they are tainted by some entity named ‘Xenu’. While the attorneys of Scientology try to keep it from happening, the prosecution is able to drag nearly the entire belief system into the light, showing the world what it actually is, the works of a third rate science fiction author, who apparently wanted his very own cult.

    In late March Microsoft releases Windows 95, an advanced version of Windows 93. For a few month Microsoft manages to take the lead in the OS market, but Linux, as a newcomer manages to eat away the shares in the rather dynamic OS market. By now most software companies have moved to support all five major operating systems, OS/2, Windows, NeXTSTEP, Unix and Linux.

    April - June 1995

    The ISA announces their future plans.

    One a larger concentration on cis-lunar space. The venerated space station Freedom is aging a bit faster then ISA would like, as its still largely uses 60s and 70s level technology in its construction. As such the ISA plans to build a new large space station, tentatively named Von Braun Station. It will be a large rotating ring station with a nonmoving annex system, to both generate earth like gravity and to be able to microgravity experiments.

    To be able to build this station, ISA announces the AHLLV (Advanced Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle) program to produce a system to replace the B-18 based Saturn V derivative that is the main Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle. Bare minimum for this system is the current lift capacity of the Saturn RV, 125 tons into a 185x185 km orbit with 27.5° inclination. Another requirement is that at least the first stage should be reusable.

    Additionally the new plans call for a new manned reusable transporter to replace the aging space shuttle.

    Following the plan of replacing Freedom, Heinlein Station is to be expanded in a similar way to Von Braun Station, but rather the using Earth build modules the expansion is to use modules and parts built and launched from Tranquility Base.

    Not public is that both stations will be armed with THEL systems to defend them against possible attacks.

    The ISA also announces the names and plans for the two large manned Saturn ships that are in construction at Heinlein Station, Cassini and Huygens. Both ships will be able to carry a crew of twenty, through either is able to carry forty people for the duration of the entire mission, currently targeted to have a length of five years.

    Both ships will use slush hydrogen as propellant and a combination of bimodal LANTR engines and VIPE systems for propulsion. Two rotating sections will provide artificial gravity for the crew and a number of (to be designed) orbital shuttles will allow movement towards the Titan artifacts. Additionally the lander Herschel will be used to do a manned landing on Titan, while both ships will use their powerful radar systems to map the Saturn moon.

    Endeavor and Destiny enter Mars orbit.

    July - September 1995

    China announces a mission to Mars to launch an opposition class mission to Mars. An internal ISA paper notes that the Chinese messed up their timetable with building their Mars ship and have to modify their mission to be able to do it as opposition class mission.

    Around the same time India and Brazil announce a joint mars mission within the next ten years.

    Japan remains silent, safe for a slowly growing mysterious construction in orbit they start in late August.

    Further investigation into the La Venta pyramid and the room where alien mummy was recovered, turns up a number of inscriptions in the walls. One of the walls shows a map of what is clearly the gravitational system of Saturn and its moons. The largest moon, Titan is clearly marked. Another map shows an unknown solar system with a single sun and five planets.

    In the United States, the trial ISA vs The Church of Scientology ends with the ISA as the clear winner. All frozen monetary assets of Scientology are to be integrated into the budget of the ISA, while all other assets will be sold, to cover the cost for Sisyphos. The status as an official religion is removed and Scientology placed under increased surveillance and marked as a dangerous cult. Additionally more investigations are called against specific members of the Church of Scientology.

    As a direct result many of the higher ranking members of Scientology leave the USA on ships of Sea Org, who move into international waters.

    September 11, 1995

    A DC-8 loaded with high explosives flies into the Cape Canaveral VAB. The VAB, through designed to survive hurricanes, collapses from the heavy damage, destroying three crawlers, three B-18 and the Space Shuttle Challenger during integration.

    Two hours later another DC-8 is found flying low across the Atlantic with the target being the Guiana Space Centre. After multiple tries to raise the plane and two Rafale jets of the Armée de l'Air, it is shot down by the SHEL installed near the Guiana Space Centre.

    An investigation is able to trace both DC-8 back to Scientology. In late September the status of Scientology in many nations changes from a cult to a terrorist organisation.

    October - December 1995

    Discovery and Odyssee begin their return to Earth.

    The ISA begins with the removal of the collapsed VAB at Cape Canaveral. There are already plans to replace the VAB with a new larger one. Originally it should have been built next to the original VAB, but with the 9/11 attack that plan is mood. Additionally the construction of three new crawlers, based on the Guiana crawlers begins in late December.

    Sea Org mysteriously begins to lose ships to accidents, while in international waters. Some suspect that it is actually the action of either the United States, France or Great Britain as a revenge for the destruction of the VAB.

    January - March 1996

    Discovery and Odyssee enter Mars orbit. This time they are only accompanied by two cargo landers containing technical systems and another set of prefabbed geodesic domes.

    Sea Org and the higher echelons of Scientology land in Liberia. It is believed that Charles Taylor was bought by Scientology, or perhaps even converted to their ‘belief’. Both organizations disappear in the process and the chaos in the nation's civil war.

    Back in the United States, FBI, CIA and many other still try to make any sense of documents about the partly top secret belief system of the terrorist organization. The only sense they can still make about it is that it’s bad science fiction.

    April - June 1996

    The Japanese name their mysterious construction in orbit for the first time. It is named Amaterasu, but no one can at the moment make any sense of the construction. Multiple docking ports, experimentation pallets, large solar panels and inflatable habitats speak for a scientific space station, a large aeroshield for a ship bound for Mars, and apparently industrial systems for an industrial space station. The lack of a propulsion system large enough to get the Amaterasu to Mars however seems to rule out a space ship. The only propulsion it has seems to be for orbital maneuvering.

    In Mexico, an analysis of the DNA of Quetzalcoatl is made. It reveals that the creature is really an alien as its genetic code is made of no less than six different nucleic acids, where Earth based DNA only has four. Dr. Jesus Mendez of the University of Mexico City is awarded with the Nobel Prize for Chemistry the next year.

    Nixdorf presents the second generation of the Dynabook and the first generation of the new Dynatop, a desktop version of the Dynabook. Both will be delivered with the first major Linux distribution Comet OS, which is released as open source software allowing everyone, who know how to work the magic, to change their own OS. Its the first major producer of hardware and software to taken on the open source concept.

    Endeavor and Destiny leave for Earth.

    July - September 1996

    Amaterasu uses its maneuvering systems to raise its orbit to a 5000 km circular orbit, before it reveals itself as a space ship. Two forward parts of the structure, previously believed to be a construction bay, begin to rotate in counter to each other. Five meter wide strips of a purpose created mylar begin to unroll, directed and stabilized by the slow rotation of the center hubs. In the end twenty thirty kilometer long blades spin around the Amaterasu, the first heliogyro.

    In a press conference JAXA reveals that Amaterasu will be going towards Mars, its solar propulsion system allowing greater speeds and more control over its trajectory, and the ability to go to Mars whenever JAXA feels like it.

    The ISA congratulates JAXA for the Amaterasu, inviting the Japanese astronauts for a stay at Bradbury Station. JAXA notes that they have to decline the invitation, as Amaterasu’s target of choice happens to be the Mars moon Deimos, which was visited by a JAXA probe in the late 80s.

    The Soviet Union launches the first of their new Heavy Lift Launch Vehicles called Herkules. Based on the abandoned Buran carrier system Energia, the Herkules is capable of lifting more than 150 tons into low earth orbit without the use of nuclear upper stages as previously used by the N-1N. The first payload of the Herkules is the massive central core module for the new Soviet space station Mir.

    The Patent Wars begin as Microsoft sues IBM and Intel. Both are accused of having used ideas patented by Microsoft. As a counter both companies sue back. While the so called ‘Big Three’ of the OS market begin their fight, Linux and other Unix derivatives begin their silent raise, mostly thanks to Comet OS, FreeBSD and OpenBSD. However to prepare for possible lawsuits against companies using and distributing the Linux kernel and various other open source software, Nixdorf and a number of smaller companies found the Linux Foundation to take care of defending Open Source software.

    In the United Kingdom, Richard Branson found Virgin Galactic, the first space company aimed as space tourism. He contracts AAC for three of their Hermes spaceplanes and OTRAG for a commercial carrier for the Hermes. Additionally DuPont and McDonnell Douglas are contracted to create a private space station as a target for paying tourists in space.

    This does not come as really surprising as Branson has already bought a number of Hopper craft to serve as VIP high speed transports for the Virgin Group.

    October - December 1996

    The Soviet Union launches the first manned mission of the replacement for the TKS capsule, the Kliper reusable lifting body. Partly based on the Hermes, the Kliper is launched by a UR-500 rocket and can deliver up to ten cosmonauts to a space station or space ship. The first mission is to the space station Mir, where the cosmonauts begin to work on getting the station online.

    However the TKS system is reused as orbital shuttle between Mir and Salyut 7.

    The ISA presents its replacements for the Saturn VR and the Space Shuttle H-33.

    The Saturn VB replacement is a Boeing-Grumman design of a two stage to orbit rocket with a core diameter of 15 meter and a payload capacity of about 275 tons into LEO. The first stage is an advanced reusable booster akin to the already flown B-18. However instead of being capable of powered and manned flight, the new first stage will be an unmanned glide back stage. The second stage is also reusable, however since it will be put into orbit, the glide back option was not possible and as such it will reenter the atmosphere like a capsule before landing in the ocean where it can be recovered.

    The Shuttle H-33 is to be replaced by an single stage to orbit aerospace plane designed by Rockwell. Using a scamjet engine system, a wave rider design, slush hydrogen as fuel and air as oxygenator the Orion is able to carry up to 25 tons into LEO. Additionally the Orion can be build as a passenger craft, to carry up to a hundred passengers either into LEO or from New York to Tokyo in two hours.

    The ability to take off at every conventional airport able to supply slush hydrogen and a limited amount of liquid oxygen for the final push into orbit and life support, the Orion is also very interesting to most airlines.

    In the Gulf of Mexico, the Mexican Navy discovers an unknown object three miles off the coast of Coatzacoalcos. The unusual shape leads the Navy to suspect a plane that crashed there, but a few divers who are sent to take a look, note that the object is not a plane, but definitely artificial. Making a connection to Quetzalcoatl and La Venta, the object is recovered a week later. The object appears to be a sort of lifting body with heavy damage. Whether this damage is of a wrong reentry or weapons fire cannot be determined. Likewise the canopy is missing as is the pilot, however the shape of the cockpit indicates that Quetzalcoatl was indeed the pilot.

    The scientists who are charged with looking over the artifact quickly note that it is unlikely that they will get much out of it, as it has been submerged in saltwater for several thousand years and no matter how resilent alien technology has proven in space in an almost ideal environment, salt water is a different matter altogether. However they are going to try and see what they can do.
  5. SVNB Backup

    SVNB Backup Autumn Drizzle

    Very nice. So you've integrated Mass Effect, Lovecraft, and A Princess of Mars, plus others I may have missed.

    Are you going to write conventional chapters anytime soon? Timelines are fine, but it would be ever better to read all this stuff with characters and conflicts and settings. Your grammar and spelling are very good, and the leap from infodump to storytelling shouldn't be very difficult for you.

    Edit: Oh wait, never mind. You already did. Can I have a link?

    But you killed off Steve Jobs!


    Even though he seemed like kind of an asshole from his biography.
  6. Wow, great timeline! How did Japan develop a solar sail without any testing it in space. Also as lasers are more advanced will we see any laser propulsion launch system being used.
  7. SolipsistSerpen

    SolipsistSerpen Solipsist Serpent

    Yes, a link to the story this is a time line for in the first entry would be nice.
  8. Warringer

    Warringer Goto Wogon for Hard SciFi

    No actual crossovers with Lovecraft or Barsoom. The aliens that build the city are radially symmetric with eight limbs, but some guy in the ISA called them 'Elder Things' and the name stuck. Likewise the centauroid aliens were just named 'Tharks', because that was as good as a name any anything else.

    I'm sometimes using timelines to develop a background for stories (when the fancy strikes me) and then when I get an idea, write a story in the timeline. Like I did with 'Rapture'.

    As for my grammar and spelling. Its not the first thing I wrote. I started the BTech Roundrobin in this forum (and left when it went downhill to never return) and write a couple of other better known fics myself, like Back Home.

    You mean the link that was *Invoked the great magic of the RETCON* always in the first post? ;)

    Personal mini Take That. On the other hand his death perhaps allowed the OS War in this timeline between Microsoft (Windows), IBM (OS/2) and Intel (NeXTSTEP (ironically a Steve Jobs product)). With Unix and Linux hiding in the background to pounce on the others when they are weak...

    Just kidding. :p
    Who said that they did not test the heliogyro technology? Its just that no one really thought that it was strange that the Japanese would do something like that. And everyone never really looked into what the Japanese were doing as they never announced their plans.
  9. walkir

    walkir Aewab Lurker Super Awesome Happy Fun Time

    Okay, that was good - even if I think timelines are outlines or stuff for appendixes or get the real story straight, not real stories. But I fear getting rid of Jobs won't save us from the fashion victim stuff that calls itself technology now... Especially not if people have a working alien computers and AI/VIs to copy their UIs off.

    Also, Bosir Yeltzin? ;)
  10. Warringer

    Warringer Goto Wogon for Hard SciFi

    He had a name change... ;)
  11. Warringer

    Warringer Goto Wogon for Hard SciFi

    January - March 1997

    Endeavor and Destiny leave for Mars, after they have been once again modified to carry a larger crew to Mars. With the Artemis 1997 mission, the crew of Barsoom Station will be increased to fifty people. To expand the station a single MK II Mars Base Module and two cargo landers with inflatable habitats are sent to Mars as well.

    Additionally ten members of the Artemis 1997 crew will remain on Mars for two Mission durations, making them able to carry out long term exploration and observations on Mars.

    A month later the Soviets send out their 1997 Mars mission, expanding their own Mars Base as well as increasing its crew to twelve.

    At Venus, the Soviets prepare to move another on the alien weapon systems to Earth, after they expanded their new space station Mir with connectors and mounting brackets for not only two, but four of the alien heavy-ion weapons.

    Around the same time they use the new Herkules to launch a number of modules to Mir. By the looks of it, they are building a new type of spacecraft to supply their growing Venera Station, which by now has grown to be of of the size of Salyut 7 and is presumed to be crewed by at least thirty cosmonauts.

    Finally, the Chinese launch their own manned Mission to Mars, using conventional hydrolox engines. While they say that they planned it like this, everyone else guesses that they had a fair share of technological problems that delayed their mission.

    April - June 1997

    Amaterasu enters an orbit around Mars, by using an aerocapture maneuver after reeling in the blades of its heliogyro sail. The crew of the Amaterasu is welcomed from the surface of Mary by the Crew of Barsoom Station.

    A series of careful maneuvers then brings the Japanese spacecraft into an orbit close to Deimos, where the Japanese begin with their exploration of the Mars moon.

    In late June the Amaterasu is joined by Endeavor and Destiny in Mars orbit.

    Virgin Galactic launches their first Hermes into lower Earth orbit, carrying Richard Branson and four other VIPs. They launch from the OTRAG launch complex at the Solomon Islands, by now the most important launch complex outside the ISA, especially for commercial and some scientific payloads.

    After returning from space, Branson announces that Virgin Galactic will launch the first commercial space station, Virgin Station. It will be constructed from two DuPont inflatable habitat modules HM-500, with 500 m³ of habitable space, and a central power truss from McDonnell Douglas, with 500 m² of solar panels and a central docking system for the two habitat modules and three Hermes spacecraft. Branson calls this the first expansion stage hinting that the station may be expanded if there is enough interest.

    The ISA also announces that Cassini and Huygens will leave for Saturn by the end of the year.

    July - September 1997

    Barsoom Station invites the Japanese to dinner at Barsoom Station, stating that their Hopper craft are capable of rendezvousing with Deimos and bring at least parts of the Japanese crew down to Mars. It would also make the crew of the Amaterasu the first Japanese to step onto the surface of Mars.

    After a number of correspondences with Earth one of the smaller Amaterasu craft detaches from Deimos and prepares to rendezvous with a Hopper in a lower orbit, carry three of the Japanese crew. They then enjoy a nice dinner at Barsoom Station, before being returned into orbit.

    Discovery and Odyssee leave for Earth.

    On Earth the first full scale fusion reactors come online in the Soviet Union, France, the United States and the Federal Republic of Germany.

    October - December 1997

    At the University of Mexico City some parts of the recovered alien lifting body, generally called the La Venta Ship by now, are analyzed. The ship seems to be a sort of rescue ship and shows some weapon damage from what appears to be projectile weapons. Only plain luck has seen to it that the lifting body has been able to even survive the reentry into the Earth atmosphere. As such it is relatively sure that Quetzalcoatl has not come to Earth because he wanted to.

    Other chemical analysis discover a number of advanced alloys that use little in the way of rare earth metals, but are better then current alloys and other materials. Of special interest is a room temperature superconductor, that only loses its superconducting properties at 310 Kelvin and uses only little amounts of rare Earth metals and can be produced relatively easily.

    The University of Mexico City immediately patents the materials and licenses them out, preparing to get a large amount of money. Most of the licenses for the materials are given out to local companies, who in turn increase the national GDP by selling their products.

    Cassini and Huygens leave Earth orbit, each using their ten powerful LANTR engines before switching to their VIPE systems to provide them with constant thrust for the main leg of their two years journey towards Saturn.

    The MIT runs the first tests of a test IMPULSE system. Its the first instance of a fusion based propulsion system. However the tests are not successful and the engine explodes violently after ten seconds of thrusting. Later it is revealed that the team feed too much slush hydrogen into the engine and had too little in the way of magnetic containment for the engine muzzle.

    At Mars, the Amaterasu leaves Deimos and begins its track back to Earth after unrolling its heliogyro blades.
  12. Nomar

    Nomar Just here for the ponies.

    I like this. Subbed, and looking forward to more.
  13. Warringer

    Warringer Goto Wogon for Hard SciFi

    January - March 1998

    The Chinese Mars mission just barely makes it to Mars, using the major part of their delta-v to catch up with Mars and enter an orbit. They are welcomed over radio by Barsoom Station and completely ignored by the Soviet Mars Base.

    After landing near Bradbury City, they are, like the Japanese and the Soviets invited over to dinner in Barsoom Station, which is accepted.

    The Soviet Union carries the second alien Heavy-ion weapon into Earth orbit, where it is connected to the growing space station Mir. By now it is apparent that the station uses a fusion reactor to power its system and the weapon systems. Additionally there are beginnings for a rotating section for artificial gravity.

    Rockwell flies the first subscale test article of the Orion SSTO. Pilot James Wilcox is the first to beat the old speed record for a piloted aircraft, beating William Knight with his record flight of the X-15, with a final speed of Mach 9.82 at 28.5 kilometers altitude.

    Virgin Station is finished by Virgin Galactics and OTRAG and Richard Branson is the first to enter the first commercial space station onboard the Hermes VSS Enterprise. After two weeks in space he returns to Earth.

    April - June 1998

    Taking as much care with their return trajectory as they can, the Chinese Mars mission begins their return trip to Earth, carrying three tons of alien artifacts.

    Scaled Composites presents the Tier One System, a air-to-orbit launch system for low payloads. Using the dual-rump White Knight carrier airplane, the Maiden, a Pegasus derived rocket, can be carried up to an altitude 20 kilometers where it is released. The payload capacity of the Maiden is around 500 kilograms. All things combined it is expected that the Tier One System will be able to operate at a similar cost as the OTRAG Keyser rockets and the MBB BETA system.

    Boeing-Grumman presents the 777 Dreamliner. Delayed more than once, the plane is the first to use slush hydrogen as fuel.

    Samsung presents the first large scale flexible OLED display, partly based on research on an alien artifact done at the UCLA.

    The ISA announces that they plan to further expand Tranquility Base. The new plans call for a semi-permanent population of one thousand people working in various areas until the end of the millenium. The ISA also offers cooperation with industrial companies to build heavy, light and electronics industry on the Moon.

    July - September 1998

    Airbus Industrie announces that they have begun the further development of the the Saenger II system together with MBB and a number of other European aerospace companies. However, other than the planned Saenger II, the new Airbus A350 Saenger will be an SSTO similar to the Rockwell Orion, capable of lifting 25 tons of payload into LEO or transport up to 125 passengers.

    Apple Computers is bought by Nixdorf, with Nixdorf using Apple Nixdorf as the brand of their Dynabook and Dynatop computers, officially supporting the older Macintosh systems for at least five more years.

    Cassini and Huygens cross the asteroid belt and are on their way towards Jupiter Orbit. Their transit is much faster than the current Mars ships could have done. On their way they have passed Ceres orbit 1000 kilometer distant to the largest asteroid and taken a larger number of images of its surface.

    The NATO announces they they have finished the STDI satellite network of fifty THEL armed laser satellites in 1000 kilometer orbits.

    October - December 1998

    Boeing-Grumman tests the first B-19 reusable rocket stage for the new heavy lift launch vehicle of the ISA, by now called Nova. The B-19 is fully computer controlled and able to return to Cape Canaveral. Its integration is done within the rebuild and larger VAB. The first test is successful, but the ISA is sceptic as there are several smaller problems during ascent. Boeing-Grumman notes that they will remove those problems as best as they can.

    After the test, JAXA politely asks if it would be possible to buy a number of used ISA hardware once it’s replaced by the Nova and Orion. As it is, JAXA is interested in two space shuttles and three B-18. Another feeler goes out to Airbus about their A350 Saenger.

    AMD presents the Athlon, the first x86-32 CPU to use a combination graphene and silicon semiconductor on a synthetic diamond substrate. Compared to Intel's conventional silicon-on-diamond Pentium II CPU, the Athlon needs less power and produces a lower amount of heat at the same benchmark results.

    3dfx Interactive is acquired by Intel, who plan to add the Voodoo family of graphics cards to their product line to compete in the new growing field of dedicated high end computer gaming graphics cards. The first product 3dfx presents after being bought by Intel is the Voodoo 3.

    Working with Samsung, Apple Nixdorf announces a new generation of Dynabooks with an Ahtlon as CPU, an resistive OLED touchscreen and using an Aztec superconducting battery produced by the Mexican company Falco Electronics. Most reviewers are wary of the new superconducting batteries, remembering the first use of superconducting batteries by Nixdorf.
  14. Warringer

    Warringer Goto Wogon for Hard SciFi

    January - March 1999

    The discovery of Quetzalcoatl and his ship, combined with the recent economic growth thanks to several technologies, mostly related to material sciences, make Mexico ask for ISA membership. The ISA, who has just welcomed Slovenia and Australia, note that they will think about it.

    Around the same time a Mexican Startup company begins with the development of a native light launch vehicle.

    The Chinese have nailed their return trajectory and enter Earth orbit on schedule. The returning taikonauts are hailed as Heroes of China.

    Following the question of JAXA to acquire old ISA hardware, the ISA once again offers the Japanese a place in the ISA. They are once again politely denied.

    Discovery and Odyssee leave for Mars.

    They are followed by a joint Brazilian and Indian manned mission bound for Mars. Using more powerful systems compared to the Chinese, it is expected the the Indo-Brazilian mission will reach Mars on schedule and without using much of their safety margin of propellants.

    April - June 1999

    Diamond prices drop to an all time low with the growing influx of high quality synthetic diamonds. As a direct result DeBeers finds it monopoly on the diamond market threatened and begin with a campaign to try and discredit synthetic diamonds. It is not met with much success as there is a growing demand in diamonds with a low price, something DeBeers does not want to satisfy.

    Amaterasu returns to Earth after using a Venus gravity assist, the first of a craft on a Mars return trajectory. Its docks with a small JAXA space station in high Earth orbit.

    Several smaller terrorist attacks happen against ISA targets using IEDs. The only large scale attack is directed against the International Center for Space Flight near Miami, destroying the lobby and killing thirty. Scientology takes responsibility for these attacks, stating that they will bring down the ISA and all relates space flight enterprises.

    The Soviets finally discover the ‘Ghost in the Machine’ of their Perestroika Network. They are more than surprised that it was largely the AI that made the Network actually work out as well as it did. That is also a firm Marxist is a pleasant surprise to the Politburo. Several computer scientists begin to try and create AIs by themselves.

    July - September 1999

    Discovery and Odyssee enter Mars orbit.

    At Tranquility Base grows to a population of 1000 and the Lunar mass driver is finished, powered by a fusion reactor build purely from lunar materials and utilizing Helium-3 as main fuel.

    The ISA announces that they will create a pair of manned ships specially for use as asteroid mining platforms on Near Earth Objects. Using the combination of LANTR And VIPE systems, these ships are expected to be able to return up to three hundred tons of payload back into cis-lunar space.

    After many tests and a construction that lasted several years, the Soviet Union officially puts the Korolev into service, a space ship sized halfway between the Discovery class of Mars ships and the Cassini class of Saturn ships. Using an engine system based on copies of the VIPE system and gas core fission engines, the Korolev is expected to be able to carry up to three hundred tons of payload to Mars and double that to Venus. The first mission of the Korolev is to Venus, where it delivers several large scale modules for Venera Station and a completely new crew. NATO expects that it will return with two more of the alien weapon systems.

    October - December 1999

    The Indo-Brazilian Mars mission enters Mars orbit, utilizing an aerocapture to bleed off as much speed as possible to safe propellants. Its the first use of an aerocapture for spaceship of its size.

    After landing the crew near Bradbury City of the mission is invited by Barsoom Station for dinner.

    The ISA launches the first Nova Rocket, carrying a 250 ton tank of slush hydrogen to the orbital propellant depot. By using this payload they are able to fully test their new rocket with its maximum payload, while not transporting anything that would be a huge loss should the Nova get destroyed. The launch is successful and both the B-19 and the second stage of the rocket are successfully recovered.

    The next launch is done three weeks later, putting the first large scale module for Von Braun Station. It contains the basic systems needed to power and control the large space station.

    Meanwhile the Soviets have finished their space station Mir. With a single one hundred meter rotating section, the station is the first to be able to generate earth like gravity. However due to its armament the station remains the main focus of the NATO STDI network.

    Seeing the possible threat the Soviet Korolev presents to the NATO and the peaceful use and exploration of space, the NATO begins to draw up plans for a similar sized, but armed spaceship class. This is seen as especially important as the Soviets begin with the construction of a second Korolev class craft. The US Air Force station Liberty, by now more or less forgotten, is expected to be used for the construction of these craft. Tentative name for the first vessel is Intrepid.

    Endeavor and Destiny leave for Earth, followed by the Indo-Brazilian Mars mission, who have acquired four tons worth of artifacts.

    December 31, 1999 - Jaunary 1, 2000

    Cassini and Huygens enter the Saturn gravity system in the last minute of the year 1999 GMT. It is purely by chance, but is seen as the beginning of the next millenium by the majority of Earth’s population. A new age of peaceful exploration of space.
  15. NHO

    NHO Misplaced Mechmind

    ... Marksist AI. Awesome!
  16. MonCapitan

    MonCapitan Magic Emperor Ghaleon!

    Good. I hope those fucking scumbags go out of business in this time line.
  17. This is very interesting. It appears these "Elder Things", and the "Thargs" are the replacements for the Protheans and possibly the Inusannon respectively.

    Considering these were outposts, I think, does that mean the various races comprising the Citadel or galaxy are also using tech based off of these extinct races, along with mass effect tech? What about these 3 different alien species, the thargs, elder things, and the flying snake, did they all utilize mass effect tech along with their own technology?
  18. VhenRa

    VhenRa MechWarrior


    100,000 Years and 150,000 years. They are the species BEFORE the Protheans.
    BF110C4 likes this.
  19. I know the Protheans vanished 50,000 years ago. However it appears here that the Elder Things, and maybe the Thargs, are going to be the stand ins for the Protheans and their Mars base. What I'm wondering is did the Protheans create an empire in this Mass Effect AU, or did they never evolve to sentience or achieve space flight, etc.?
  20. Warringer

    Warringer Goto Wogon for Hard SciFi

    Well, the Soviets dis- and then recovered a Prothean beacon from Bradbury City. So there may be more Prothean artifacts on Mars.

    And it's a feathered snake not a flying one.
    BF110C4, Ahra and stark40763 like this.
  21. Did the 3 different alien races here all use mass effect tech in some way?

    If I'm allowed to make 1 suggestion, have mass effect FTL be the only FTL. Too many stories make the mistake of introducing other FTL drives and gifting them to humanity, often as pretext for some type of human wank where they proceed to be better than a Citadel that is normally written as a strawman at best.

    Only one story I've seen where there are multiple FTL drives in Mass Effect has done it well, and that is Screwball's Bad Neighbors fic, and even there Screwball mentions that both drives have their advantages and disadvantages. In fact the FTL used by the humans in it has similar problems to mass effect drives in that it has to deal with a charge of some type.
  22. VhenRa

    VhenRa MechWarrior


    But no Eezo in sight. Very weird... almost makes me think someone has intentionally removed all Eezo and references to it from Sol system.
  23. Well who's to say that all the eezo is gone? For all we know, the various spacecraft that have been recovered might have eezo in them.
  24. Warringer

    Warringer Goto Wogon for Hard SciFi

    Well, who is to say that there weren't races that used less eezo then what we do see in the games?

    Besides, there are Tharg weapons recovered in Helium Town that were strange in their design.

    Then there is also that everyone might keep eezo secret for the moment, or have not yet figured out what to do with this strange material that was recovered.
    BF110C4 likes this.
  25. Warringer

    Warringer Goto Wogon for Hard SciFi

    January - March 2000

    Cassini and Huygens begin a series of maneuvers that puts them into a Titan orbit in mid January, before they match orbits with the alien artifacts orbiting the Saturn moon. Around the same time both ships begin scanning the surface of Titan through the thick opaque atmosphere with various remote sensing systems.

    After taking a large number of external images of the two artifacts, the ISA claims both artifacts in correspondence to the ‘Artifact Accords’ as both the spaceship and the space station are clearly artifacts as noted in the Accords.

    Immediately afterwards teams are sent to both artifacts and slowly begin with cartographing them. The ISA also releases general informations about both artifacts, based on the external examination.

    Both were clearly built by a civilization not that much more advanced than Earth. Rotating sections are needed to create artificial gravity and the half of the spaceships volume is taken by large propellant tanks. It is expected that the ship is equipped with a sort of fusion based propulsion system. The ship itself is about four hundred meter in length, while the station is about eight hundred meter in diameter. As seen before both have take extreme weapon damage.

    The population of the Soviet Moon Base Tsiolkovskygrad grows to 600. Most of these cosmonauts are busy to build a lunar mass driver similar to the one at Tranquillity Base. Another large part of the base is weapons testing and mining for Helium-3 for Soviet fusion reactors.

    The Soviet Union also finishes building the Chernobyl fusion reactor to replace the old fission power plant. It is seen as needed after a test damaged on the reactors, nearly causing a bad incident. As it is the incident was not worse than Three Miles Island.

    April - June 2000

    Endeavor and Destiny return to Earth.

    The NATO builds its own extension of Tranquility Base and begins to conduct weapons testing. First weapons to be tested are a rail gun designed by Gerald Bull and a kinetic kill vehicle based on the Sprint and HiBEX missiles designed in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Both weapon systems are intended to be used in tandem to the THEL systems in Project Intrepid.

    At Tsiolkovskygrad the Soviets test their own rail gun and the first native copy of the Heavy-Ion accelerator.

    Like the NATO weapon testing the Soviet tests are successful but call for even more tests.

    At Saturn the crew inspecting the alien spaceship makes a startling discovery. Not only arethey able to identify the frozen corpses of several creatures as being of the same species as the Mexican Quetzalcoatl, but they are also able to find a working system that appears to be a cryostasis capsule containing one of the creatures. Rather than trying to thaw and then recover the alien, the ISA orders the crew to recover the capsule and return it to Earth, where the alien may be recovered under better circumstances.

    Apple Nixdorf announces the new Dynapad. Again using an AMD processor and superconducting battery, the Dynapad is the first computer device to use a flexible AMOLED screen with the first capacitive touch surface. The Dynapad also is the first Nixdorf computer to use flash memory in place of an actual hard drive and an integrated WiFi network system. With its screen collapsed into the casing, the Dynapad is about the size of an early handheld cellphone as used in the 80s.

    July - September 2000

    The Indo-Brazilian Mars mission returns to Earth.

    The Korolev returns to Earth, delivering the last two alien heavy-ion accelerators to Mir, where they are installed into their waiting mounting brackets.

    Shortly before the Titan lander Herschel is scheduled to land on the Saturn moon the remote sensing systems are able to identify an anomaly. One relatively small area near the equator of Titan is much warmer than the rest of the moon. The ISA then orders to try a landing near the anomaly.

    Herschel is able to land at a distance of one hundred meter to the anomaly, but the extreme temperatures of the Saturn moon only allow a short stay of twelve hours. With the tight scientific schedule of the Herschel crew only can only look at the anomaly for about one hour. However in this hour the crew of Herschel is able to identify the anomaly as an artificial structure buried under the solid and liquid hydrocarbons of Titans surface. They are also able to identify an airlock that is similar in its design to the airlocks in the orbiting artifacts.

    In orbit the space station can also be identified as belonging to the Quetzalcoatl as several corpses are recovered. On the station there are also a couple of weapons recovered, but after a closer investigation it possible to identify the weapons for ‘conventional’ firearms using solid explosives to accelerate a metal slug. The only unconventional about these weapons are the use of ‘ammo rods similar to the Metal Storm concept and the use of the bullpup design even in side arm designs.

    The Microsoft vs Intel/IBM lawsuits increase in serveness. Many people begin to get annoyed and the continued lawsuits between the ‘Big Three’ spark of similar patent wars between other companies in other areas. Additionally the growing use of Napster and similar peer-to-peer networks gets the RIAA and MPAA to try and pass laws to outlaw these services.

    October - December 2000

    First inter atmospheric tests of the Rockwell Orion SSTO prototype. It is easily able to beat the previous record of the smaller manned test vehicle by reaching Mach 15.6 at 34 kilometers altitude. Some problems with the actively cooled heat shields are discovered, as the slush hydrogen, used to cool down the hull and to pre warm the hydrogen for the engines, very nearly gets stuck in the injectors to the cooling cycle by nearly freezing solid. Rockwell expects that they will be able to correct the problem by February 2001 and do the first orbital injection of the Orion.

    Cassini and Huygens leave the orbit around Titan after nearly a year in orbit and begins their two year trek back to Earth. They carry about sixty tons worth of artifacts and the still active cryostasis capsule, after leaving Herschel back at Titan.

    NATO finalizes the first iteration of Project Intrepid. The projected space ship design is the first dedicated warship design in history, getting a large number of complaints in the UN general assembly. However the NATO members point out at the existence of the Korolev and Mir, especially considering the armament of the Soviet space station.

    Meanwhile the Korolev begins a mission to Mars, using its powerful propulsion systems to ignore low energy transfer orbits altogether and using a brachistochrone orbit. It is expected that this mission will greatly expand the Soviet Mars mission.

    As a direct result of the Korolev Mission to Mars, the ISA puts back its plans to build asteroid mining ships, instead concentrating to replace the four aging Mars ships used since the early 80s, using the lessons learned in building the Cassini and Huygens.