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History of United Earth - 21st Century

The 21st Century would see Earth's introduction to the greater galaxy, but only after humanity had nearly wiped itself out.

Eugenics Wars

Though part of the last decade of the 20th Century, the Eugenics Wars had a profound impact on the first half of the 21st Century and beyond. Early experiments in selective breeding and genetic experiments by Cold War scientists produced a group of superhumans collectively known as Augments, and in the 1990s these individuals would seize power in several regions around the world. The 1990s had seen conflicts in Africa, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Central and South America, and Southeast Asia as these tyrants gathered more power that would sow the seeds for greater conflicts in the next century. The genetic tyrants would be undone by infighting amongst themselves, though not before deaths from the conflicts reached into the millions.

The New Millenium

Despite the chaos from the Eugenics Wars the 21st Century began with a sense of hope. Technological progress led to several leaps forward. Projects like the Millennium Gate in Indiana, United States would lead to innovations that would be used decades later in Earth's first Mars colonies. Advances in fields like medicine, computers, communications and space exploration were unfortunately not matched by societal changes.

Through the 2010s economic factors led to increasing wealth disparity, with the rich getting richer and everyone else getting poorer. By 2020 rates of poverty and homelessness in the United States led the government to create Sanctuary Districts in most major cities to help care for those suffering from these economic hardships. While nominally intended to be benevolent the Sanctuary Districts soon turned into little more than internment camps where the unemployed, the mentally ill, undocumented immigrants, and other "undesirables" could be effectively imprisoned without trial.

Conditions deteriorated, leading to the Bell Riots in 2024 when residents in Sanctuary District A in San Francisco occupied an administrative center in the district and took hostages. The residents also gained access to the global computer network and were able to tell their stories of conditions in the districts to the world at large. The governor of California eventually sent in the National Guard, resulting in the death of hundreds of sanctuary residents, including occupation leader Gabriel Bell, who sacrificed himself to protect the hostages during the National Guard assault. The event galvanized public opposition to the Sanctuary Districts, leading to government efforts to properly address the socioeconomic conditions in the country. The Sanctuary Districts were abolished, but later events would prevent much more progress.

World War III

What history refers to as World War III began as a series of regional and internal conflicts across multiple nation states. Historians generally place the start of the Third World War in 2026, with two notable events providing the impetus. Firstly there was the revelation that several nations had resumed experimentation in genetic engineering and Human genome enhancement. With the memory of the Eugenics Wars still fresh in the minds of many governments a wave of economic and political sanctions were levied against the offending nations, leading to an increase in global tensions. Secondly, internal unrest had spread in several countries, most notably in the United States where confrontations between fascist white supremecist groups and more leftist civil rights-leaning groups erupted into open violent conflict leading to the Second Civil War.

America was not the only country facing civil unrest iIn the mid-2020s, with the United Kingdom dealing with the political and economic fallout of Irish Reunification in 2024 and ongoing anti-government protests in France for example. Conflicts were not limited to nation states either, as various militias and terrorist groups across the globe were also engaged in open warfare with nations and each other. The most notorious of these was the faction of ecoterrorists led by the infamous Col. Phillip Green, whose actions during the period of World War III are believed to be responsible for somewhere in the order of 37 million deaths.

By the end of the 2030s and into the early 2040s the conflict entered a phase of shifting alliances as the worldwide conflicts continued to spread and intensify, with some alliances, like the Eastern Coalition, lasting longer than others. Atrocities became par for the course, and some militaries took to using narcotics to control their soldiers. The war effectively ended in 2053 when escalation finally reached the stage of nuclear bombardment. Many major cities across the globe were destroyed in nuclear fireballs, including New York City, Washington, and Paris. In the aftermath the surviving groups agreed to a ceasefire, with the final death toll for the nearly three decades of conflict being at least 600 million people and the devastation causing the extinction of over 600,000 plant and animal species.

Post-Atomic Horror

While the ceasefire stopped the major conflicts, the world was still in chaos. Most governments simply no longer existed anymore, leaving the survivors to fend for themselves. Some surviving factions would still launch raids, for resources in most cases as large portions of the planet had become irradiated from nuclear fallout. In some regions martial law was in place as surviving authorities, or whichever power figures had emerged after the war, sought to maintain control; while in other areas society had reverted to barbarism. Such was the devastation and level of collapse of civilization that some parts of the Earth would remain in a state of chaos until the early 22nd Century.

The few surviving governments tried to rebuild the New United Nations, which had emerged in the early 2030s in an effort to curtail the global conflicts, but with little success. Some agreements were signed, an effort to at least maintain a semblance of order, including a ban on genetic engineering. In North America the terrorist Col. Green took this to the next level and in 2056 initiated a genocide when he ordered that anyone suffering from radiation sickness be euthanized to prevent mutations from being passed on to future generations, giving his rationale in a speech to his followers as "reject the impure and cast it out." Under his orders hundreds of thousands of people were put to death, and a century later heated debate still rages over Col. Green's actions.

First Contact

While the world was trying to crawl its way out of the carnage of the Third World War, a scientist and his rogue team of engineers were secretly working on a project that would change the history of Earth forever. At an abandoned nuclear missile complex near the town of Bozeman, Montana on the North American continent, Dr. Zefram Cochrane and his team worked to convert an ICBM into an experimental spacecraft that would be the first to travel faster than the speed of light. Cochrane had spent years working on his space warp theory and after experimental validation of his theory in 2061 he and his assembled team started work on the manned craft that would take humanity to the stars.

On April 5, 2063 with a first stage converted from a Titan II missile the experimental warp ship Phoenix lifted off into the Montana sky. Cochrane himself was the pilot, nestled in a cockpit built from scrounged titanium. Historical records do not indicate who else was aboard the Phoenix on its historic flight, with Cochrane himself remaining vague on the subject, but many historians believe his co-pilot was Lily Sloane, the lead engineer on the project. Upon reaching orbit Cochrane engaged the vessel's prototype warp drive and traveled at approximately Warp 1 for just under a minute, traveling 18 million kilometers in that short span.

Far greater than its technical achievement was the impact of the Phoenix flight on humanity itself. At the time of the flight an alien science vessel from the planet Vulcan was passing through the Solar System and detected the warp signature of the Phoenix. Vulcan records did not indicate that humans possessed warp technology, so following standard procedure the Vulcan science ship T'Plana-Hath landed on Earth at the launch site in Montana to investigate, marking humanity's first contact with intelligent alien life.

First Steps

With Zefram Cochrane acting as initial liaison, the Vulcans made contact with representatives of Earth's remaining governments. For their part the various world governments had been aware of both Cochrane's flight and the arrival of the Vulcan ship, but they naturally feared that the Vulcans presented a threat of an invasion the war-torn planet would be unable to defend against. Instead the Vulcans made it clear that they wanted to establish diplomatic relations, but it became clear that the aliens were not interested in dealing with individual governments. So if the Earth were to gain any benefits from a relationship with the more advanced Vulcans the planet was going to have to learn to speak with one voice.

While a true United Earth Government would take decades, international cooperation became the standard for anything involving space. In addition to providing the single point of contact for trade with the Vulcans, the governments resurrected the old International Space Agency and tasked it with exploiting Zefram Cochrane's warp engine design. While trade with Vulcan would provide some resources from the stars, it became clear that if humanity wanted true access to the opportunities among the stars they were going to have to get there themselves.

By the end of the 2060s several exploration and colonization efforts had begun with the first wave of warp-capable space vessels. Colonies would be established on the Moon and Mars, and by 2069 the Utopia Planitia shipyard was in full operation on the red planet helping to produce the ships taking humanity to the stars. While there were successes, like the establishment of Earth's first extra-Solar colonies in Alpha Centauri and Vega, there were also tragedies like the disappearance of the SS Valiant and the failure of the Terra Nova colony.

First Conflict

Soon after taking to the stars humanity would discover that Vulcans were not the only other intelligent species out there. In fact, the Earth's stellar neighborhood was downright crowded. While many of the new alien races encountered would prove friendly, like the Denobulans, some others would not. Twenty years after first leaving the Solar System humankind would face its first test against an aggressive alien species.

Exploring a region of space towards the galactic center, a region unfamiliar to Earth's Vulcan allies, an International Space Agency vessel encountered a spacecraft belonging to an unknown species. The Earth ship attempted to open communications with the newcomer but soon found itself under attack. The new vessel had superior weaponry to the Earth ship and would have made short work of them had it not been for a couple of lucky breaks. Firstly, the commander of the unknown vessel assumed that the poorly armed Earth ship was no match for his so decided to take his time and find a way to kill its crew while minimizing damage to the vessel itself. Secondly, while the Earth ship was not particularly well-armed it did possess an extremely powerful communications laser, a backup to the ship's primitive subspace radio and capable of beaming a message all the way back to Earth. By the time the alien captain realized his target was not as harmless as he believed it was too late and the crew of the Earth vessel were able to use the communications laser to destroy their attacker.

The attackers were revealed to be a species of tiger-like humanoids called the Kzinti. The Kzinti were an aggressive, expansionist species who controlled an area of space several light years across which they called the Patriarchy. Surprisingly, the Kzinti controlled an interstellar region despite not possessing warp drive. Rather the Kzinti had developed an advanced form of gravity control, technology reverse engineered from an ancient alien artifact. Thanks to the gravity control the Kzinti could accelerate their space vessels to an appreciable percentage of lightspeed, to the point where relativistic effects prevailed. Thus a Kzinti vessel could operate for decades making the trip between stars while the crew would only experience a subjective time measured in years or even months.

Shortly after that first encounter another Kzinti vessel came across one of Earth's newest colonies located in the Zeta Bootis system. The colonists were caught unprepared and were ill-equipped to defend themselves, resulting in the colony soon being taken over by the Kzinti. This is generally considered the start of the first of the Kzin-Earth conflicts. Earth would find itself alone in this conflict, as the Vulcans were reluctant to enter into a conflict with a previously unknown species, at least until the extent of the threat to Vulcan could be assessed.

While the Kzinti had superior weaponry and greater experience in space warfare, humanity's possession of faster-than-light capable ships would prove to be the deciding factor. Despite having only a handful of vessels, none of which were designed for space combat, and no organized space navy, Earth managed to score several decisive victories against the Kzinti. A ceasefire ended the first conflict, but the Kzinti would use the time this gave them to reverse engineer warp drive technology and would soon resume hostilities. Unfortunately for the Kzinti, Earth was making rapid technological advances as well and would again have the edge. Over the last couple of decades of the 21st Century there would be total of four separate periods of conflict between Earth and Kzin, with Earth emerging victorious each time. A lasting peace was finally negotiated between the two under the supervision of the Vulcans, leading to the Treaty of Sirius which effectively disarmed the Kzinti.

Out of the Fire

Earth had spent the first half of the century heading towards humanity's destruction, and the second half pulling back from that brink. By the end of the century Earth was well on the path to being a unified world, and had taken to the stars. Now humanity was looking forward, wondering what the next century would bring.

History of United Earth - 22nd Century

Earth would come into its own in the 22nd Century, emerging fully from the depths of darkness to which humanity had fallen in the middle of the previous century to take its place among the stars.

United at Last

By the dawn of the 22nd Century the rapid development of new technology, both native and from trade with the Vulcans and other nearby alien species, as well as the influx of resources from space now accessible to humanity, has allowed the Earth to nearly fully recover from the environmental damage of 20th Century industrial pollution and 21st Century nuclear war. Such has the recovery been that by the 2110s famine, poverty and disease have effectively been eradicated on Earth.

Along with the environmental recovery there was also the recovery of humanity itself. Little more than a half-century after nearly wiping themselves out, humankind had reached a state of peace never before seen. Ever since the end of the Third World War and First Contact with the Vulcans, humanity had been on the steady road to unification.

What had started with the rebuilding of the surviving governments soon led to the birth and rebirth of order and civilization in the regions that had fallen into anarchy. As humanity reached out to the stars and the prosperity from these endeavors came back down to Earth the various old and new political entities started forming alliances with each other, such as the European Hegemony. Finally, in 2113, the governments and alliances formally banded together and the United Earth Government was born. Though a few regional governments would hold out initially, by 2150 the last of these signed on, creating a truly unified planet.

Reach for the Stars

Warp technology had progressed slowly since Zefram's original flight; though the inventor had been working tirelessly on improving it by the early 2100s the best engines Earth could produce had a maximum speed of Warp 1.8. This had no impact on humanity's race to the stars as both the International Space Agency and the regional alliances were still sending out waves of colony vessels, some of which would successfully establish human colonies on far-flung worlds but many more that were never heard from again.

Within the Solar System, the planet Mars had seen a continuous human occupation since the mid-2060s with the establishment of the Utopia Planitia starship construction facility there. In 2103 the civilian government of the Martial Colonies was established with the Fundamental Declarations of the Martian Colonies. The Proxima Centauri colony would similarly establish its independent government after the terraforming efforts started years earlier were finally completed.

To maintain stability in the burgeoning trade network that had formed between Earth, its colonies, and nearby alien worlds, the newly the United Earth Government formed the Earth Cargo Authority, which would oversee the fleet of cargo ships that plied that network. All Earth-registered interstellar cargo transport vessels would fall under the Earth Cargo Service. As these vessels all traveled at speeds below Warp 2 the journey to the nearest colony in Alpha Centauri still took several months, and trips to other stars would take years. These lengthy journeys led to the crews of the Earth Cargo Service vessels to frequently take their families onboard with them, leading to a generation of humans who would be born in space aboard the cargo ships and often live most of their lives there. These "children of the stars" would be referred to as Space Boomers, later shortened to just Boomers.

To Boldly Go

Slowly but surely humanity had made its way out into the galaxy, a little too slowly for some. After decades of dead ends trying to develop more advanced warp drives a solution was finally hit upon by a brilliant young engineer named Dr. Henry Archer. In 2119, based on Archer's proposals, the United Earth government initiated the Warp 5 Program. The program would suffer several setbacks, including the disappearance of Zefram Cochrane near the start and the early death of Henry Archer, as well as the Vulcans overseeing it urging a slow, cautious approach and a loss of the first prototype that would nearly set the whole program back to square one. Despite all of this the program would eventually succeed and a little over thirty years after its inception would produce Earth's first functional Warp 5 engine.

The achievement of developing the Warp 5 engine was not a solitary breakthrough. Over the course of the program a series of engine designs were produced, each one successively breaking the Warp 2, Wap 3, and Warp 4 barriers. To leverage these interim breakthroughs the United Earth government created a new space exploration organization, christened Starfleet. This new organization would oversee the NX Project, which would build the starships that would use these new engines. Founded in the early 2140s after the development of the first Warp 2 capable engine, Starfleet would produce a succession of starships that would become the backbone of Earth's space exploration and security. This would culminate with the NX class of starships, designed to use the Warp 5 engine, the first of which would be christened the NX-01 Enterprise.

  • See the Spaceflight History section for more details on the development of Earth's space technology over the 21st and 22nd Centuries.

The Greater Galaxy

The launch of the NX-01 Enterprise would take humanity out farther than ever before. Though tasked primarily with exploration to broaden scientific knowledge, the Enterprise, under the command of Capt. Jonathan Archer, would also include Earth's first encounters with a number of its spacefaring neighbors, some of which go better than others. Enterprise's initial mission would lead to strained relations between Earth and the warlike Klingons, while an encounter with the Andorians would place Earth firmly in the middle of heightened tensions between that species and Earth's nominal allies the Vulcans. Other encounters include the confrontational Tellarites, the xenophobic Tholians, and a hostile first meeting with ships from the mysterious and territorial Romulan Star Empire.

For good or ill, the Enterprise under Capt. Archer would act as Earth's de facto ambassador to the greater galaxy. While further encounters with the Klingons would only worsen matters with them, Enterprise's actions with the Andorians had earned sufficient trust that Archer was asked to mediate a territorial dispute between Andoria and Vulcan, successfully preventing an outbreak of hostilities between the two interstellar powers. While the Enterprise's mission of exploration was expanding humanity's knowledge of its interstellar neighborhood, that mission would abruptly be cut short when a crisis threatened the future of planet Earth itself.

The End of the World

Despite some conflict encountered by its starships, Earth itself had enjoyed a century of relative peace. All that changed on a March morning in 2153 when an alien vessel of unknown origin emerged seemingly from nowhere to launch a devastating attack from Earth orbit. The ship fired a powerful beam of energy that cut a swath through the planet from the Florida peninsula in North America to Venezuela, South America before self-destructing. Over 7 million were killed in the attack, which left Earth at first stunned and then enraged. Much of Earth's space fleet was recalled to the Solar System in the aftermath of the attack, including the Enterprise.

The identity of the attacker was a mystery, at least until the return of Enterprise. Though the details remain classified, some of the contacts made by Jonathan Archer during the NX-01's missions had provided critical information. This information revealed that the attackers were a group called the Xindi and that the attack had only been a prelude, that the Xindi were building a more powerful version of the weapon that would be capable of destroying the Earth. The Vulcans were skeptical of the information obtained by Archer, but he found sufficient corroborating evidence to convince his superiors in Starfleet. Archer was authorized to take the Enterprise into the region of space the Vulcans indicated held the homeworld of the Xindi, the Delphic Expanse, tasked with locating the Xindi and preventing them from completing the new superweapon and using it against Earth.

Over the course of the next ten months the Enterprise would traverse the Delphic Expanse, a mysterious region of space peppered with numerous anomalies where the Vulcans, Andorians, Klingons, and many others had lost several vessels. Archer and his crew would discover that the Xindi were not a single species but several, all having evolved separately on the same planet. Their original homeworld had been destroyed, but the survivors were able to settle another world within the Expanse. A group of extra-dimensional beings known only as the "Sphere Builders" had secretly manipulated the Xindi into believing that Earth would be responsible for the destruction of their new homeworld at some point in the future and had provided the assistance to the Xindi to develop the weapon that had attacked Earth and the new weapon that was being built.

The reality was that these Sphere Builders were seeking to invade and take over this dimension, but required changing its physical nature in order to make it compatible for them to survive here. The anomalies in the Delphic Expanse were the result of their earlier efforts, and by some means of predictive technology the Sphere Builders believed Earth would be key to preventing them from taking over, leading to them manipulating the Xindi into destroying Earth for them.

Archer and the Enterprise would eventually locate the Xindi and convince the majority of their ruling council that they had been deceived. Unfortunately one faction, the Reptilian Xindi, would remain loyal to the Sphere Builders and would take the just completed superweapon to finish the destruction of Earth. Only through a desperate, last minute action by Enterprise, aided by some other Xindi as well as an Andorian vessel, was the superweapon destroyed and Earth saved. The near destruction of Earth was a wake up call for the planet, leading to Starfleet accelerating the construction of more Warp 5 ships. The galaxy was dangerous and Starfleet would need to step up if Earth was to earn its place among the interstellar powers.

Trust and Doubt

After the resolution of the Xindi crisis, the Enterprise would resume its mission of exploration, soon to be followed by the first of her sister ships, the NX-02 Columbia. Ghosts of the Eugenics Wars returned to haunt Earth when a group of genetically augmented humans, raised in secret from embryos frozen a century and a half earlier, emerged to cause chaos. A war between Earth and the Klingons war barely averted when the Enterprise exposed and stopped the Augments.

This would not be the only war averted thanks to the actions of Capt. Archer and the Enterprise in 2154. On Vulcan, a militant faction within the High Command secretly bombed the Earth embassy and framed the Syrranites, a pacifist group of Vulcans who claimed to follow the true teachings of Surak. The bombing was intended as a distraction as the faction used false information to justify launching an attack against the Andorians. While Archer and his First Officer, the Vulcan T'Pol, aided the Syrranites to expose the militants, the Enterprise, under command of Commander Charles Tucker, went to intercept the Vulcan fleet. Archer, T'Pol, and Syrranite leader T'Pau successfully exposed the conspiracy, leading to the Vulcan civilian government disbanding the High Command and recalling the fleet, which had been delayed from attacking Andoria by the Enterprise and a small group of Andorian vessels.

In November of 2154 the Tellarites and Andorians nearly went to war after a series of attacks each blamed the other for; events collectively referred to as the Babel Crisis. Again it was thanks to Archer and the Enterprise that the attacker was revealed to be a sophisticated drone ship capable of altering its appearance on sensors to mimic Andorian, Tellarite, and other vessels. Despite the arrival of a second drone ship the Enterprise was able to destroy both vessels and prevent them from inciting any further conflict. Though the evidence was inconclusive, analysis of debris from the drone ships seemed to implicate the mysterious Romulans in the plot.

At the end of 2154 a diplomatic conference was held on Earth with delegates from numerous alien worlds, most notably the Vulcans, Andorians, and Tellarites. The goal of the conference was the creation of a formal alliance between the major starfaring powers of the galactic region, a proposed Coalition of Planets. Anti-alien sentiment had increased on Earth as a result of the Xindi attack, so unfortunately not everyone was on board with the idea of increased human-alien interactions. While the conference was going on the anti-alien terrorist organization called Terra Prime took control of the Verteron Array on Mars (a powerful energy beam projector used to deflect comets, both for planetary defense of Earth and Mars and to redirect comets as sources of ice water for terraforming efforts on Mars). Terra Prime threatened to use the Verteron Array to destroy Starfleet Headquarters on Earth if every alien did not leave the Solar System and for Earth to adopt an isolationist policy. Luckily Terra Prime was thwarted and the delegates at the conference decided to work in earnest towards an alliance.

The Widening Gyre

With a period of relative peace settling in as negotiations on the Coalition of Planets continued, Starfleet was readying for a new wave of expansion. With the fleet of Warp 5 ships taking shape it became clear that these ships could no longer be expected to return to the Solar System every time they were in need of repair or resupply. Starfleet Command decided to establish a series of Star Bases on various worlds that could serve as staging bases, supply depots, and repair stations. The first such Starbase would be established on a newly discovered world orbiting the star Algeron.

The Starbase opened for operations in February 2156, welcoming not only Starfleet vessels but also ships from Earth's Coalition allies. The planet that was home to the Starbase was also discovered to be a treasure trove of valuable minerals, leading to jealousy from Earth's allies as well as others. Unfortunately, one of these others would be the Romulan Star Empire.

A month after the Starbase had begun operations, Earth received a subspace message from the Praetor of the Romulan Star Empire claiming that the Algeron system was inside of Romulan territory and demanding that Starfleet vacate the base, planet and star system immediately. Having invested heavily in the construction of the Starbase and reluctant to give up the natural resources of the planet, Starfleet held its ground and the United Earth government attempted to open negotiations with the Romulans.

Rather than entertain this request, the Romulan Star Empire instead responded by launching a surprise attack on the Algeron system. On May 18, 2156 a fleet of five Romulan warbirds entered the system. While most alien vessels had avoided the system since the Praetor's message there were still several Earth vessels present, including two NX-class starships, the Columbia and the Excalibur. Knowing they were no match for the Romulan fleet the two ships split up, with the Columbia attempting to distract the warbirds long enough for the Excalibur to escape and warn Earth of the attack. Columbia's final fate is unknown, though she is presumed to have been destroyed by the Romulans, while the Excalibur escaped long enough to get a message through to Starfleet Headquarters before she was caught by the Romulans and destroyed.

Despite hoping that diplomacy might prevail, Earth now found itself at war with a hostile alien power. Not only that, but her allies in the Coalition were reluctant to enter into conflict with the feared Romulan Star Empire, leaving Earth to at least initially fight the war on its own. On June 1, less than two weeks after the loss of the Algeron system, its Starbase, and two of Starfleet's top-of-the-line Warp 5 vessels, the Earth formally declared war on the Romulan Star Empire.

Tales of Hope and Despair

This is the state of the galaxy in which we join the missions of the Freedom class vessel Pathfinder and its role in the Earth-Romulan War.

History of Spaceflight

Earth's Space Age began in the mid-20th Century, with early rocket technology developed for weapons near the end of the Second World War being turned towards the goal of reaching space. The first orbital satellites were followed by attempts to put humans into orbit and beyond, culminating in the first great achievement of the Apollo 11 mission that placed astronauts on the surface of the Moon in 1969.

What had begun as a Space Race, a competition between nation states, would turn more and more towards scientific endeavors and international cooperation as the end of the century drew closer. While crewed spaceflight was mainly held to Low Earth Orbit, robotic probes explored more and more of Earth's neighbors in the Solar System.

By the dawn of the 21st Century spaceflight technology was ready to take humanity farther out than ever before, despite the slow but steady rise in tensions between many of Earth's nation states.

Pre-Warp Spaceflight

The last decade of the 20th Century had seen several achievements that would carry humanity's endeavors in space forward into the 21st. The completion of the International Space Station meant humanity had its first permanent home in orbit; the launch of Voyager 6 completed the first wave of robotic exploration of the Outer Solar System; the development of the DY-100 series of crewed spacecraft promised to open up those world's to human exploration; and advancements in cryogenics raised the possibility of sending humans farther out than ever before.

Nomad MK-15C

The Nomad series of probes were the first intended for interstellar exploration. Designed by Dr. Jackson Roykirk, the prototype Nomad MK-15c was built with some of the most advanced artificial intelligence systems to-date and was programmed to seek out new life forms around other stars. Nomad launched in 2002, but contact was lost only three years later. The general consensus was that the spacecraft had been damaged in a meteoroid collision and the Nomad program was canceled with no further probes launched.

Ares Program

While humanity had visited the Moon several times in the preceding half-century, it was the Ares program that took it to its neighboring world, Mars. Under the direction of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and with the cooperation of the newly formed International Space Agency, the Ares missions led to humans landing on Mars. In addition to the scientific discoveries, including the discovery of fossilized insects that was the first proof of extraterrestrial life, the missions paved the way for the eventual colonization of Mars. Despite the tragedy of the Ares IV mission in 2032, when the command module and its pilot, Lt. John Kelly, were lost in an encounter with an unidentified anomaly in orbit necessitating a dramatic rescue operation to recover the crew left stranded on the Martian surface, a final Ares V mission would launch a few years later.

Earth-Saturn Probe

The Earth-Saturn Probe, commanded by Col. Shaun Geoffrey Christopher, was the first crewed mission to one of the Outer Planets. Saturn was selected as the target for the mission over Jupiter due to a Jovian mission requiring greater radiation shielding. The vessel was one of the first of the Aventeur class of crewed spacecraft using the latest nuclear propulsion engines, technology that had rendered the earlier, slower DY-100 class of ships obsolete by 2018. The mission launched in 2020 on a multi-year journey to the ringed planet where it would perform a detailed survey of Saturn and its primary satellites.

Europa Mission

The Europa Mission was a scientific mission to Jupiter involving the participation of more than a dozen nations. The mission launched in April 2024, sending the crew and scientists on board the Shango X-1 spacecraft on a four-year journey to Jupiter. The mission included a Europa lander, with the astronauts touching down on the surface of the icy moon in 2028. In addition to Europa, the Shango also explored several other Jovian moons, leading to the discovery of an extraterrestrial extremophile microorganism on the surface of the volcanic moon Io by Dr. Renée Picard. Decades later this microorganism would prove to be the key to development of technology that would help heal much of the environmental damage done to Earth by humanity in the preceding centuries.

Charybdis

The Charybdis was the third attempted, and first successful, launch of an interstellar crewed spacecraft. Developed and operated by NASA, the Charybdis launched on July 23, 2037, under the command of Colonel Stephen G. Richey. The spacecraft was equipped with cryogenic hibernation capability for the crew of fifteen as well as the latest nuclear fission power plant. Contact was lost with the spacecraft in early 2038 after an apparent telemetry failure on the spacecraft. The Charybdis mission was one of the last major spaceflight efforts from Earth for the next two decades, as the multitude of conflicts that would later be referred to collectively as World War III finally escalated to a global scale in the 2040s.

Breaking the Warp Barrier

Warp-capable starships from Earth start with Zefram Cochrane's prototype and move through the early UESPA (United Earth Space Probe Agency) vessels to the United Earth Starfleet.

Phoenix

The first Earth vessel to break the Warp barrier was Zefram Cochrane's Phoenix. The Phoenix was built in secret in a converted missile silo and in fact used an ICBM launcher as the first stage to get to orbit before Cochrane's prototype Warp Drive propelled the inventor past the lightspeed barrier, leading to Earth's First Contact with aliens.

United Earth Space Probe Agency (UESPA)

The breaking of the lightspeed barrier and First Contact with intelligent extraterrestrial life turned humanity's attention back to the stars. The few nation states that had survived World War III with any form of spacefaring capability immediately began work on new spacecraft to leverage Cochrane's invention. The New United Nations had collapsed by the end of the war, but the fledgling international organization that had emerged from the peace treaties that finally ended the conflict made an attempt to coordinate these efforts. It helped considerably that the Vulcans refused to deal with individual nation states, and the International Space Agency was resurrected to oversee spaceflight activities on behalf of this New New United Nations (officially just the United Nations). As the UN slowly transformed into the United Earth government in the 22nd Century, its spaceflight arm would eventually come to be known as the United Earth Space Probe Agency (UESPA).

Bonaventure (C1-21)

The Bonaventure was the first production Earth vessel capable of traveling at warp speed. Designed by Zefram Cochrane, the Bonaventure consisted of a forward crew section and rearward engineering section, separated by a heavy shield dome to protect the crew section from the as-yet not well understood energies that might come as a result of extended warp travel. The Bonaventure allowed Earth to explore beyond the Solar System, mapping out the Alpha Centauri system and paving the way for Earth's first extra-Solar colony.

SS Valiant

The SS Valiant was one of Earth's first deep space exploration vessels. Launched in 2065, the vessel was later lost in a magnetic storm and declared lost and presumed destroyed in 2069. Despite some advances in Earth's warp drive technology, the Valiant and her sister ships were limited to speeds below Warp 2.

Friendship 1

Friendship 1 was Earth's first warp-capable interstellar probe, launched in 2067, and would serve to identify target systems for future exploration. It could also serve as a first contact as it contained information that would allow any sufficiently intelligent species to contact Earth. The probe has lasted decades longer than it was designed for and continues to provide data to Earth as of 2161.

USS Enterprise (XCV-330)

The USS Enterprise was Earth's first effort at advancing warp technology. It used a ring-style warp drive based on Vulcan design, but was unable to break the Warp 2 barrier. While it served to help improve Earth's knowledge of warp physics and other aspects of starship design, the so-called "Great Experiment" was ultimately a dead end and would be superseded by the technological advances from the Warp 5 Project.

United Earth Starfleet

The United Earth Starfleet was tasked primarily with the defense of Earth and its colonies, leaving exploration primarily to the UESPA. Starfleet would later absorb the UESPA and its duties (especially after the launch of the NX class), though exploration missions would still sometimes be stated as being under the auspices of UESPA.

Hull Registries: at first glance the hull registries of U.E.S. vessels can appear inconsistent, but there is some logic. Early technological testbeds like the USS Enterprise had registries starting with X, with additional letters in the prefix that usually denoted something related to the technology being developed. Vessels that were derived from the Warp 5 Project would use the NX prefix. The initial run of Warp 5 vessels were reserved the first set of numbers (NX-01 for Enterprise, NX-02 for Columbia, etc.) while any vessels developed using technologies spun off from the project would receive registries from the subsequent number series: NX-1xx, NX-2xx, NX-3xx, and so on. This led to vessels being put into production prior to the launch of the NX-01 Enterprise appearing to have hull registries that come sequentially after it (for example the Freedom class exploration vessel Franklin had a hull registry of NX-326 despite having been launched several years prior to the NX-01 Enterprise).

Warp 5 Project

Despite decades of research and effort since Cochrane's initial flight, by the end of the 21st Century humanity had not managed to break the Warp 2 barrier (based on the Vulcan Warp scale, Earth's best efforts had only reached Wap 1.8). The Vulcans had vessels capable of Warp 5 and the United Earth government knew that, if the Earth was to be able to stand on its own in the greater galaxy, they needed to achieve this. Earth's Vulcan allies were not willing to share their more advanced Warp technology, so humanity was going to have to manage this technological feat on their own.

In 2119 the Warp 5 Program was inaugurated by the now-elderly Dr. Zefram Cochrane, headquartered at a new research complex built near the location of the launch site of Cochrane's historic flight in the Phoenix. While Cochrane was on board as a senior advisor, the Warp 5 Program had been the brainchild of Dr. Henry Archer, who conceived of a long-term research project that would build towards a Warp 5 engine in incremental steps, spinning off advances in technology from each step on the way.

The program suffered several setbacks, starting early on with the disappearance of Zefram Cochrane shortly after the elder scientist had relocated to the Alpha Centauri colony and, more devastatingly, with the death of program leader Dr. Henry Archer from Clarke's Disease a few years later. The Warp 5 Program was left in the hands of Archer's associate Dr. Kotaro Tasaki, who continued on under the supervision of the Vulcans. The program would take more than two decades before achieving its first major breakthrough, but this broke the proverbial dam and within eight years of first breaking the Warp 2 barrier the program successfully completed the development of Earth's first Warp 5 capable engine.

Related to the Warp 5 Program was the NX Project, run by the United Earth Starfleet, which was tasked with the development of spacecraft to take advantage of the engine technologies being produced from the Warp 5 Program. The NX-Alpha prototype was destroyed in testing, but its sister ship the NX-Beta became the first Earth ship to break the Warp 2 barrier. The NX-Delta followed, utilizing an engine that let it travel at Warp 3 and becoming the first of the NX prototypes to be used as the basis for a mass-produced class of spacecraft. The project concluded with the successful development of the Warp 5 engine and launch of the first NX-class starship using that technology, the NX-01 Enterprise in 2151.

Warp Delta

The Warp Delta class of ships became the first mass produced vessels leveraging the technological advancements from the Warp 5 Project. The Deltas were the first vessels to reach Warp 3 (in 2145) and became the core of the U.E.S. fleet serving to defend Earth and its early interstellar colonies.

Intrepid Class

The Intrepid class of vessels were another core component of the U.E.S. defense forces. The class featured a half-circle primary hull and shorter warp nacelles than the NX class, but nonetheless served as an evolutionary step in Earth starship development on the path to the Warp 5 vessels. The Intrepid class served in the Xindi and Romulan Wars of the 2150s.

Freedom Class

The Freedom class were Warp 4 capable vessels and were one of the immediate predecessors to the NX class in terms of ship design. Freedom class vessels performed both defensive and exploration missions. As a defensive vessel they served in many of the key battles of the Romulan War, and as an explorer would pave the way for the later missions of the NX class starships.

NX Class

The most noteworthy of Earth's Warp-capable ships, starting with the NX-01 Enterprise, the NX class were the culmination of the Warp 5 project and finally brought Earth on par with many of her galactic neighbors. Their accomplishments in exploration and in service during the Earth-Romulan War have cemented the legacy of the NX-01 Enterprise and her sister ships for generations to come.

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