▤ La Paz de Los Ricos ▤
1:2 Pre-Columbian History
- 1:2.1 Polynesian Colonization
1:3 European Colonization
1:4 The Breakaway War
1:5 Independence & 18th Century
- 1.5.1 Berto, el Hierro de Castillos
- 1.5.2 Joaquim de Castillos' Death
1:6 Mario Matrus & Sect of the Law
- 1:6.1 Ten Parties of Exploration
2:1 First Reunification War
2:2 Second Reunification War
3.1 Reunification War's Aftermath
3.2 Pax Septima
- 3.2.1 The Subinsul Plan
- 3.2.2 Creation of Novodoman
- 3.2.3 Rise in Patriotism
3.3 Pax Septima's Decline
- 3.3.1 Dama͑n, el Castillo Dorado
- 3.3.2 Berto, el Hierro de Castillos' Death
- 3.3.3 The Fall from Grace
3.4 The Second Breakaway War
4.1 20th Century
- 4.1.1 The Breakaway Scandal
4.2 Disbanding Once Islas
- 4.2.1 Southern Outer Isles Independence
- 4.2.2 Siete Islas' Reformation
- 4.2.3 Neo-Insurrectionism
4.3 Widespread Revolution
4.4 The Third Reunification War
4.5 Rebuilding Siete Islas
4.6 Republican Ideals
4.7 The Second World War
5.1 Second World War's Aftermath
- 5.1.1 The Reintegration
5.2 Pax Ricana
- 5.2.1 Northern Outer Isles Purchase
5.3 Quince Isles
5.4 Ricano Composition
- 5.4.1 Ricano Reforms
- 5.4.2 Fluidity Accords
- 5.4.3 National Alias and Flag
- 5.4.4 The Crescendo
5.5 La Paz de Los Ricos
- 5.5.1 Ricano Renaissance
- 5.5.2 Transition of Cultures
5.6 21st Century
- 5.6.1 Antre Kino͑no
- 5.6.2 Ruma̹s Kansena͑s
- 5.6.3 Triangular Governship
5.7 Girante Palica͑ Terror Attack
- 5.7.1 Attack's Aftermath
5.8 Creation of Treangolism
5.9 Treangolist Triultarchy
6:1 Treangolism's Early Effects
- 6:1.1 As the 21st Century Went On
6:2 An Eye on the Stars
- 6:2.1 Achieved Missions
6:3 The Race to Mars
- 6:3.1 The Trialt Takes Notice
- 6:3.2 Splitting the Focus & Developing
the Ricano Space Commission
- - 6:3.2,2 The Ricano Reconstruction Suite
- - 6:3.2,1 The Mars Contact Suite
- 6:3.3 Further Mars Landings
- 6:3.4 Ricano Space Rush
- - 6:3.4,1 Private Sector Enters the Rush
- 6:3.5 Setting Foot on Mars
- 6:3.6 Los Ricos Catches Up
- - 6:3.6,1 2045 Ricano General Elections
- 6:3.7 Ricano Omniflight Agency
- 6:3.8 The Nation Achieves Spaceflight
7:1 The Scramble for Mars
- 7:1.1 Straining the Outer Space Treaty
- 7:1.2 The Excelsior Pact
7:2 The Space Revolution
- 7:2.1 The Normalization of Spaceflight
- 7:2.2 Interplanetary and Interstellar
- 7:2.3 Expanding Martian Colonization
7:3 Getting Ricanos to Mars
- 7:3.1 Project Further
- 7:3.2 Ricano Manned Mission to Mars
- 7:3.3 La Tierra Más Allá
7:4 Developing Mars
- 7:4.1 Prospects of Terraforming Mars
7:5 Humanity Reaches Further Out
- 7:5.1 Project Roundtrip
- 7:5.1 The Hiker Program
- 7:5.2 Hiker Launches
- 7:5.3 Ricano Fears
8:1 End Of The 21st Century
- 8:1.1 Hiker Completes Her Mission
- 8:1.2 Complexes on Mars
- 8:1.3 Terraforming Mars - Deploying
- 8:1.4 Disunion in La Paz de Los Ricos
- 8:1.5 The Splitview Incident
8:2 The Fourth Reunification War
- 8:2.1 Early Skirmishes
- 8:2.2 Fighting Eases & Truce
- 8:2.3 Difficult Discussion
8:3 Dawn of the 22nd Century
- 8:3.1 Terraforming Mars - Atmosphere
- 8:3.2 Hiker's Second Mission
- 8:3.3 Hiker Launches Again
- 8:3.4 La Paz de Los Ricos Recovers
- - 8:3.4,1 Ricania Abandons Roadways
- 8:3.5 Hiker Rounds the Gas Giants
- 8:3.6 Hiker Returns Once Again
9:1 Colonizing the Rest of the System
- 9:1.2 Mercury and Venus
- 9:1.3 Asteroid Belt
- 9:1.4 Jupiter
- 9:1.5 Saturn
- 9:1.6 Uranus and Neptune
- 9:1.7 Dwarf Planets, Kuiper Belt, and
9:2 Expanding the Hiker Program
- 9:2.1 Initial Propositions
- 9:2.2 Hiker II
- 9:2.3 Future Hikers
9:3 Ricania Tentatively Reenters Space
- 9:3.1 Creation of Tetarolism
- 9:3.2 Rejoining Excelsior
9:4 The Promise of Hiker II
- 9:4.1 Completion of the Vessel
- 9:4.2 Hiker II Launches
- 9:4.3 Reaching Ganymede
9:5 Martian Cities
- 9:5.1 Terraforming Mars - Melting The
9:6 Worlds in Reach
- 9:6.1 Success on Ganymede
- 9:6.2 Hiker Fleet
- 9:6.3 Colonies On Callisto
- 9:6.4 Ambitions Elsewhere
9:7 Ricania Expands to New Worlds
- 9:7.1 Looking to Ganymede
10:1 An Interplanetary Humanity
- 10:1.1 The Distant Worlds Community
10:2 Ricania Shoots For Titan
- 10:2.1 Project Next Step
- 10:2.2 Navakusta
- 10:2.3 Navakusta Launches
- 10:2.4 Ricanos on Titan
- 10:2.5 La Tierra Nublada
10:3 End of the 22nd Century
- 10:3.1 Normalizing Asteroid Mining
- 10:3.2 Terraforming Mars - Oceans and
- 10:3.3 Early Martian Disputes
- 10:3.4 Venutian Colonization Opportunities
- 10:3.5 Early Interstellar Tries
- 10:3.5 Ricania Reinvested In Space
- 10:3.6 Turn of the Century
As the 21st century continued, it became clear that the global focus on Mars would not diminish. Even as the United States of America had proved itself victorious in the Race to Mars by being the first to land humans on the Red Planet, global powers invested in the conflict continued to strive for a place on the neighboring world. Nations continued developing and launching space probes, building their own space forces, and training more astronauts.
Throughout the 2050s, several notable milestones were achieved. In 2052, the European Space Agency, as scheduled, launched their own manned Mars expedition, OneEffort. Crewed by nine representatives hailing from several different nations of Europe, OneEffort was scheduled to touch down on Mars in early 2053. Just one year after OneEffort launched, the China National Space Administration launched Mars One, a manned orbiter mission meant to place a Chinese crew in orbit above Mars. Manned lander missions were announced by the CCP for later in the decade.
Various other nations announced their own efforts to get a crew to the Red Planet, notably from the Roscosmos State Corporation of Russia, which held special interest in Mars. The Antarctican mainland became a frequent testing ground for potential Mars colonial efforts, which used the hostile cold desert conditions to conduct tests on biostructure prototypes and to study the psychological ramifications of extended isolation on a small crew.
Martian colonization simply became the next step for humanity. Governments became embroiled in landing colonists on Mars soil, and tensions were considerably high during the latter half of the century. For many, it seemed almost a contest for territory; where the Race to Mars had been an effort to simply establish a presence on Mars, the Scramble for Mars, as it was coined after the fact, was an effort to claim available land to set up colonies on the planet.
In this time, the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 became increasingly relevant.
The Treaty had initially been created with the intent of securing outer space and celestial bodies as a neutral environment, under the care of all of humanity, declaring that "the exploration and use of outer space should be carried on for the benefit of all peoples irrespective of the degree of their economic or scientific development." In the eyes of the Treaty, space was to be maintained for future generations as an object of discovery and exploration, rather than a medium for conflict and conquest.
To this point, no official claims to Martian soil had been made or recognized on an international diplomatic scale. No government had made any official declarations to ownership of extraterrestrial soil beyond expressing interest in merely exploring or charting it. No hostile action had been made between governments over implied claims on off-Earth soil. The only actions taken so far were the deposition of autonomous markers and probes on the surface of the Red Planet, establishing indirect claims to a general area on behalf of the responsible party, as well as the establishment of one small permanent habitat by Americans. The Treaty had not been violated specifically according to its wording. Yet, international diplomats feared that a continuation of this competition would eventually result in a breach or even disregard of space law.
To this end, the United Nations officially addressed the issue to the General Assembly on 17 September 2052. It was declared that any known continuation of international tensions over the Red Planet following would be considered a flagrant breach of the Outer Space Treaty. Mars, in the eyes of international law, would be a united effort, and any territory beyond Earth discovered or explored by any Earthly entity would be done so in the name of all of humanity, as regulated by the Treaty. To wit, nations should no longer continue implying territorial claims on the planet with remote vehicles or markers, and objects should only be deposited on the surface for purely scientific curiosity, and for the benefit of all humanity.
Following this ruling, Article XII of the Treaty, concerning the establishment of stations or bases on extraterrestrial land, was altered. Olympus Base, the American permanent colony already on Mars, was subsequently declared open for use or expansion upon by all nations. Future colonies on the Red Planet, such as Europe's OneEffort landing shortly, as well as potential Chinese and Russian missions, were subject to the same ruling.
Private ventures were left virtually untouched by this move. As corporate bodies and for-profit enterprises pushed for private space stations and Lunar space tours in the mid-21st century, the Outer Space Treaty declared any active private endeavors legal under international law, provided that they did not establish physical bases on extraterrestrial soil without the direct consent of the United Nations Security Council.
The recent United Nations ruling had left many world governments unsatisfied. Having put so much effort into establishing a presence on the Red Planet, the ruling had essentially nullified many of these efforts. While developing spaceflight capabilities was still a noteworthy goal, intentions to use that knowledge to carve up Mars into autonomous colonies for political leverage were now inert. Markers were now meaningless beyond data-gathering and sampling purposes.
However, interest in the Red Planet did not subside. Many nations held special interest in Olympus Base and OneEffort for their potential to grow into future colonial cities on Mars. As the United Nations ruling had declared the two Mars habitats, as well as any future colonies on the planet, open to expansion by other world powers, many governments expressed a willingness to participate in assisting with the expansion of the two colonies.
In 2053, delegates from various governments willing to be party to the expansion and further development of Olympus Base met at Turtle Bay to discuss the issue in depth. The delegates ultimately came to a consensus: the September 2052 UN ruling was restrictive and ultimately an unbeneficial act for humanity's continued presence in space. It was reasoned that competition ultimately led to advancement in spaceflight. At the conference, it was postulated that mankind would have landed on Mars much earlier if the Race to Mars had intensified earlier. Even with this stipulation in mind, the delegates still recognized the importance of the ruling, and so decided that, for the present moment, adherence to the ruling would be obeyed.
featuring a stylized ♁ orb-and-cross icon.
To this end, one of the delegates suggested forming an international organization of world powers vested in the chartering of solar space with manned expeditions, and particularly, in developing human colonies on Mars. As far as the delegates were concerned, this idea needed to be entertained. Forming an international alliance between the various parties interested in developing their space capabilities and settlements off-of-Earth would basically ensure adherence to the 2052 ruling. Further, it was declared that any nations that, in the near future, would engage in placing manned or unmanned objects of any kind into outer space were required to join this new alliance, in order to preserve the ruling.
On 16 May 2054, delegates from the 114 nations on Earth with active space programs at the time, La Paz de Los Ricos included, attended a subsequent conference in Berlin to discuss and ultimately secure the formation of a "spaceflight alliance". At this conference, the name of the organization was at last proposed: "Excelsior", for "ever upward". The document securing the alliance, the Excelsior Pact, was completed shortly afterwards. On 18 May 2054, the delegates met for the final time, and officially signed and ratified the Excelsior Pact, forming the Space Organization of the Excelsior Pact for the preservation of the 2052 United Nations ruling on extraterrestrial colonies and territory. With La Paz de Los Ricos as an official signatory, the Ricano Omniflight Commission, after having been on hiatus since the ruling almost one-and-a-half years prior, was now able to continue normal operations.
Spaceflight was, inarguably, strenuous. Each endeavor out of Earth was a years-long project, consuming many resources and costing tens of thousands for every attempt. Yet in the late 2050s and early 2060s, humanity more readily advanced into space with increasing ease, on the cusp of a revolution which would see the human race wean its dependence on Earth and spread out into its solar system.
Mankind was well on the verge of becoming a system-wide civilization, with dreams of colonizing neighboring planets already realized, and sights set on the outer worlds of the Solar System. With the future of space-vehicle development secured by the foundation of Excelsior, man's spaceflight capabilities exploded.
Luna was mankind's spacecraft testbed, its harsh conditions and lesser gravity not a mirror for Mars and other planets, but its proximity to Earth making it the ideal seat of the burgeoning space industry. The moon served well as grounds for experimenting with structures and materials, with permanent Lunar colonies and settlements flourishing in the light of Luna's necessity to Earth. Hundreds of novel spacecraft designs were being approved for trials by dozens of space agencies worldwide. Earth's orbit became increasingly crowded, as the private sector burst into the space industry in the wake of Excelsior. Private startups received attention from both governments and the public, corporations mainly led the charge in space development, and many billions of dollars were invested in the space industry overall. Alongside this, for-profit Lunar tours began seeing surges in popularity among those able to afford them. Private space stations in orbit of Earth became a commonality in the latter half of the 2050s, with Luna also seeing an explosion in infrastructure, development, and global attention.
Excelsior cemented an international cooperation in spaceflight. Where Martian colonization had been a controversial topic in the years before the alliance, the 2060s saw an era of delicate global peace as governments invested the effort for cooperation and trust. With Earth and Luna the cradle of humanity, many now saw the opportunity (as well as the necessity) to take further leaps and strides to spread humanity out into neighboring worlds.
Though mankind was still far from being capable of interstellar flight, or even from reaching the Solar System's outer planets, there was still drive in the space industry to develop the fundamentals which would eventually serve to colonize beyond the Solar System. Private startups uninterested in colonizing the Solar System turned their eyes backwards, to prior-abandoned propulsion technologies with the goal of sending small probes to nearby stars.
Originally, some held interest in reviving the Orion Project for experimentation in the 2060s. The project had initially been abandoned along with all other uses for nuclear weapons in outer space, as ordained by the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, and had not received attention since. Now, support for the revival and pursuit of Project Longshot and similar deep-space unmanned probes increased among the public. Excelsior pushed back on the idea.
Beyond this, some startups seriously considered achieving superluminal travel by the end of the century (though, with the current technological prowess of even the most advanced space organizations of the time combined, this was unfeasible). Interest in developing and experimenting with a Natário Warp Drive was fairly high, though technical simulations needed to suffice. All-in-all, humanity still lacked the sufficient energy necessary to even begin approaching any superluminal drive, but the push still existed among some to at least begin early research on potential future concepts for an interstellar warp-ship.
Under Excelsior, extant Martian colonies like Olympus Base of the US and OneEffort of the EU were opened to international cooperation and expansion.
Over the later 2050s, efforts to expand those colonies increased. Excelsior participants volunteered astronauts and space vehicles to taxi over to the Red Planet to assist in the colonial expansion. Under the Excelsior banner, nations claimed sections of Martian land for future development, and work began.
Around Olympus Base, construction began on a major biodome habitat, twice the size of the initial one constructed for the American crew. Concepts were submitted by participating aerospace construction firms on the state of future expansion around the base into a complex facility. OneEffort saw similar expansion, particularly drawing interest from China National Space Administration and other Asian aerospace agencies.
Plans for an international Martian taxi-vehicle to cut costs were presented to Excelsior in 2058. Based on Lockheed-Martin's Mars Base Camp concepts, the concept for a Mars ferry, consisting of a long-term ferry-ship equipped with two aero-shuttles for transport to and from the surface, suitable for continuous reuse (and accounting for continuous liftoff and reentry of its aeroshuttle taxi) was approved for experimentation later that year, and construction of a prototype was scheduled for after 2060.
With the Excelsior Space Organization now firmly in place, the Ricano Omniflight Agency at last was in a position to get a Ricano crew to Mars after having been stagnant in the year prior. Now, with the assistance of other space agencies in Excelsior, the Ricano Omniflight Agency's spaceflight capabilities dramatically increased.
In partnership with NASA, JAXA of Japan, and several other Excelsior participants, the Ricano Omniflight Agency began work on plans to send the next major human expedition to the Red Planet to support the ongoing colonization efforts. Along with this second wave of colonists, La Paz de Los Ricos had plans to launch its own independent Mars colony, overseen by Excelsior, to conduct research in the Martian east.
Plans for a permanent autonomous Ricano settlement on Mars had been in the works since the Race to Mars began some thirty years prior. However, with the experience the Ricano Omniflight Agency had earned in its early years during the Race, and with the combined abilities of the nations of Excelsior at their disposal, the dreams of a Ricano colony on the Red Planet seemed tangible within a decade.
On 13 January 2061, the heads of the Omniflight Agency met with the Treangolist Trialt to discuss the future of Ricano interests on Mars in the age of international cooperation and Excelsior. At the meeting, the parties deliberated over the 2052 United Nations ruling and the consequences of Excelsior, particularly the virtual elimination of any competition over the Red Planet, as well as participating in the development of Olympus Base.
At this meeting, the Omniflight Agency heads at last revealed the plan for Ricano colonization of Mars, which had been being developed for nearly three decades. Titled simply Project Further, the documents presented to the Trialt outlined the process for establishing a viable permanent settlement so distant from the two other major colonial centers on Mars.
The Trialt agreed to grant the Omniflight Agency the funding necessary to follow through with Project Further, provided that the plan would be approved by Excelsior. The Omniflight Agency acquiesced to the proposal. The Trialt called for a meeting of the nations of Excelsior on 15 May 2061 to discuss the merits of Project Further.
Ultimately, Excelsior gave approval for the project to go ahead, so long as the 2052 ruling was followed. Project Further was officially declared open to expansion upon by all other nations.
With Project Further's future safe and funding secured, La Paz de Los Ricos diverted its attention to ensuring the Project, under
the leadership of the Ricano Omnflight Agency, progressed smoothly, to the dismay of many Ricanos. Since the 2050s, Los Ricos had diverted much of its attention to its space efforts. Even with the foundation of Excelsior, the Trialt still found it necessary to spend its time and wealth on progressing Martian interests. Other Ricano institutions had their budgets downsized, including the Iron Militia (Ricano Armed Forces), infrastructural development (as abandoned by the previous Trialt), and education.
Ricanos rebuked the Trialt for their continued ignorance to the public's demands. Protests frequently took place in Alvore̜sod, the nation's capital, with agitated protestors campaigning for the total abolishment of the Ricano Omniflight Agency. Opponents of the Agency claimed that it was an assault against private business (having absorbed most Ricano airlines in its merger) and an inefficient waste of the Ricano budget and resources, as well as claiming that it's international alliance in the Excelsior Pact demonstrated passiveness, which many saw as a threat to Ricano national security. Supporters of the Agency declared its advancements in space a boon for the nation, and that without it, Los Ricos would not have succeeded in its space endeavors as much as it had, perhaps to the point of irrelevence.
aeroshuttle Azoma in position to dock (right).
Despite public backlash over the matter, the Ricano Omniflight Agency continued finalizing work on habitat prototypes and developing the plan for establishing the Ricano colony. In December 2061, the Treangolist Trialt officially announced the beginning of the first Ricano interplanetary manned mission.
The journey to Mars would require the use of the Earth-Mars ferry-ship, and the purchase of one aeroshuttle construction contract for transport and temporary shelter. The Omniflight Agency approached Excelsior and ultimately purchased a contract and national registry for a Johnny B. Goode-type aeroshuttle. At the time, there existed only one Earth-Mars ferry, Excelsior International Space Vehicle (EISV) Adventurer, which serviced nearly all travel and transport from the Blue Marble to the Red Planet. Considered an international asset of great value, Adventurer's earliest open flight was scheduled to take place between January and May 2063. To take advantage of the window of proximity of Earth and Mars in that time, the Omniflight Agency purchased the usage of Adventurer for that flight.
Construction on the Ricano aeroshuttle was completed in June 2062. Named Azoma, after a goddess of ancient Mitzilano scripture, she was the first manned space vehicle owned entirely and independently by La Paz de Los Ricos. She began her test flights in orbit of Luna in July, immediately following her completion. The Omniflight Commission, in a tight time constraint to meet the 2063 ferry, rushed tests to get her back to Earth as soon as possible.
In late November 2062, Azoma wrapped up her test flight and ventured back to Earth. In this time, a final crew had been selected. 16 Ricano astronauts were chosen to journey to Mars and establish La Paz de Los Ricos' first extraterrestrial colony. Also on the ferry would be 2 Ricano specialists destined for Olympus Base to assist in constructing another biodome.
On 19 February 2063, after delaying the flight for maintenance checks to the ferry, EISV Adventurer departed from Earth, carrying aboard the first Ricano space colonists. The departure was streamed worldwide, though Ricano viewership was significantly low (likely in protest against the Trialt's percieved failures to focus on the wellbeing of the nation).
Adventurer was the fastest manned spacecraft of the time, and as Earth and Mars neared, the ferry was granted a significantly shorter transit than average. It was absolutely crucial that Adventurer launch as early in 2063 as possible, in order to make the voyage in as short a time and not miss the proximity window. An average trip to Mars in the ferry was projected to last two to three months, whereas the Ricano trip to Mars lasted only one-and-one-half months. Adventurer established orbit over Mars on 3 April 2063. The day saw protests sweep Alvore̜sod, many conservative Ricanos chastising the Adventurer's crew as traitors, lackeys to the will of a corrupt Trialt.
Azoma was restricted from attempting a landing immediately, however. Miscommunication between Earth Excelsior and the head of Olympus Base down on the planet forced Azoma to postpone her landing while the situation was resolved. For a month, Adventurer's passengers were forced to stay in orbit of Mars. Finally, in late April, the conflict was resolved, and Azoma was given the go-ahead to attempt a landing.
After a short preparation, at last they were ready to light on Mars. On 4 May 2063, Azoma separated from Adventurer, six of the 16 crew aboard the aeroshuttle. She rounded, and entered a controlled spiral toward the surface. Achieving a maximum speed of 46,000 kph, her heavy insulated ventral hull was turned to face the friction of the Martian atmosphere to increase drag and slow the descent of the shuttle.
Over the next three minutes, Azoma descended. 1000 meters above the surface, the aeroshuttle deployed its resilient landing gear. In another thirty seconds, Azoma touched down roughly on the Martian surface. Roughly an hour later, the astronauts exited the aeroshuttle and stood on the surface of Mars, making history as the first Ricanos to stand on the surface of another planet. La͗n Setaba, the first of the crew to stand on the surface, remarked of the mission: "You are trying to view Flash content, but you have no Flash plugin installed."
La Tierra Más Allá (finally La masallana gets an official canon and is not just an abandoned throwaway.)
Ricanos had at last set foot on Mars, and with that came the opportunity for Project Further to at last get underway. Aboard the Adventurer were the necessary materials to begin establishing a small habitat on the Martian surface. The crew planted a Ricano flag on the site where they would found the colony. In the days immediately following the landing, the crew began assembling their habitat, the first Ricano outpost on another world.
Established in the Martian east, in the Cimmarium region, the site was informally named "La Tierra Más Allá" (Novodoman: E̹a Sata Oltraa̜d), or "the Land Further Beyond", as it was the most isolated Mars colony of the few extant settlements. Over the remainder of 2063 and the early weeks of 2064, the settlers constructed the permanent habitat and set up a small greenhouse biodome, where they would cultivate food.
As the Ricano settlers built their colony, Adventurer returned to Earth. As the ferryship established orbit over Earth, violent protests racked Alvore̜sod. Ricanos upset with the Trialt's perceived inability to recognize the will of the public flooded the streets with signs and Ricano flags, demanding the incumbent Trialt face charges for treason. Ricanos continued to either demand change from the Trial, or demand change to the Trialt. Many called for a reduction in term limits, denouncing the twenty-year terms granted to the Onalts in favor of ten-year or five-year terms. Other called for a complete shakedown and reform of the entire Ricano government, including discarding Treangolism entirely. Some radicals even called for a complete balkanization of Los Ricos, declaring that fifteen independent islands would serve the people more adequately than the disinterested governance of the united archipelago. Though these protests ultimately subsided in the months to follow, in the nation's consciousness a seed was sown.
With Mars in Earth's grasp, human presence on the Red Planet would see a revolution in the decades to come which would establish humanity as a fledgling interplanetary power, with genuine capability and drive to push the limits of spaceflight as had never been seen before.
Over the remainder of the 2060s, humanity continued to develop colonial infrastructure on Mars. Olympus Base and OneEffort flourished as consistent trips between the two planets brought new waves of settlers and more equipment and materials. Over time, new colony sites appeared across the surface. By 2070, six unique colonies had appeared on Mars, as China and India had jumpstarted their own plans. With the frequency at which men and material needed to be ferried from the two worlds, Excelsior slated for the construction of a second and third ferryship, EISVs Grandeur and Memorial Challenger respectively. Luna flourished as well. With humanity at a tipping point in space affairs, Lunar infrastructure saw exponential growth. The satellite very quickly became humanity's capital for space business and affairs, both political and private. Civilian travel between Earth and her moon quickly became commonplace, as aerospace ventures jumped at the opportunities presented to them.
Over the latter 2060s, La Tierra Más Allá continued to grow. La Paz de Los Ricos focused its attention almost exclusively on developing this colony, to the dismay of Ricanos. Even as the 2065 general elections installed a new Trialt, the Ricano public felt abandoned by their government. Large portions of the Ricano budget continued to be directed to Project Further, even as Ricanos continued to protest archipelago-wide.
With colonial ambitions on Mars expanding, Excelsior began looking at the prospect of terraforming the Red Planet. Though it wouldn't be achievable for millions of years yet, many organizations explored possible concepts for beginning the process with great interest. Some postulated that terraforming would begin at the turn of the century.
On 16 September 2070, Excelsior approached the United Nations with a proposition on terraforming Mars, though without any viable concepts. With the support of most of its members, the proposition was allowed, and Excelsior was granted the funding it needed to explore whatever options for transforming Mars were put before it, so long as the Outer Space Treaty remained unbroken.
For understanding, a living Mars required the following; (1) Mars needed a thicker atmosphere. At the time, Mars had an extremely thin atmosphere, nearly incapable of insulating the planet at all. Humans and human colonies needed to provide their own insulation to protect against the cold Martian environment; (2) Mars needed an atmosphere suitable for breathing; though point 1 still applies, it is also notable that life on Earth is not suited for simply any gaseous medium. For this, an atmosphere Earth-similar needed to exist if a living Mars using Earth life could be established; (3) Mars needed a magnetosphere. The magnetosphere of Earth is largely responsible for its protection against solar events and cosmic radiation (besides the atmosphere). It is speculated Mars lost its own magnetosphere as its iron core cooled. To directly heat the core was out of the question, so the consensus became to establish an artificial magnetosphere around the planet.
Initial research was conducted on Luna, where many old terraforming concepts of the early 21st century saw light again. In the early years, the usage of nuclear weapons was proposed, though immediately shot down due to its violation of the 1963 Partial Test Ban Treaty, prohibiting use or testing of nuclear weapons of any kind in an atmosphere, underwater, or outer space (note that the Orion Project was discontinued for similar reasons).
Experts deliberated over the appropriate methods and their durations. The concept of asteroid bombardment was a popular one. It is believed by some that Earth gained its own atmosphere through repeated impacts with meteorites and meteors. This theory was resurrected during terraforming discussions. At this point, many industries were already exploring the concept of asteroid redirection and transport for mining, so this seemed a fortunate opportunity for the terraforming project. As for the establishment of an independent magnetosphere, the idea of a satellite network of currents was brought up, though was declared unfeasible in the short term. As an alternative, the Green method was proposed, where an incredible magnetic dipole would be established at Martian Lagrange point L1 to act as a magnetic shield.
Ultimately, a tentative terraforming plan was presented. Following through with the Green method, a dipole would be deployed in Martian orbit to serve as an artificial magnetosphere. Once the magnetic field was confirmed, nitrogen- and oxygen-rich asteroids would be redirected to Martian orbit and dropped into its surface, slowly building an atmosphere. As the atmosphere asserted itself, orbital mirrors would be used to heat the environment. Over time, it was projected that Mars would eventually develop an Earth-similar environment.
The United Nations reviewed the proposition and decided it was worth pursuing. Limited funding was granted to Excelsior to explore these concepts in further detail.
With development of Mars progressing smoothly, Excelsior decided to launch a second project. Humans had been on Mars for nearly two decades, and dozens of new colonial projects were emerging. Venus was also of interest, though currently off-limits to colonization due to a corrosive atmosphere and intense pressure.
The next logical step was for humanity to explore beyond the asteroid belt, and fly to the gas giants of the Solar System. Jupiter and Saturn were the obvious candidates, Jupiter for three of its moons, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto being possible candidates for a human colony, and Saturn for its ring system being a possible long-term source of ice. Though Excelsior devoted most of its resources to the nascent Mars terraforming project, the United Nations still found a long-term manned mission to the gas giants pertinent.
In 2073, Excelsior was ordered to devise a prototype for a spacecraft which could sustain a crew over the span of a seven-year mission to and from the gas giants. Excelsior delegated the task to the organization's premier space agencies, including NASA, ESA, JAXA, and the Ricano Omniflight Agency. Whichever agency could develop the most successful prototype simulation by 2075 would receive funding for any colonial projects it needed for the decade following. Named Project Roundtrip, the task to create an essentially indelible spacecraft with the resources to last a crew almost a decade came to the forefront of the world's space powers.
Over six dozen designs came to Excelsior's attention, with a minority considered for actual testing. The Ricano Omniflight Agency presented several rough concepts to Excelsior, all of which were ultimately abandoned due to design flaws manifesting in digital simulations. In 2077, NASA ultimately presented the winning concept: originally named EISV Triton, the 300-meter craft was the most efficient and most durable design of the lot. Her design was heavily based off of those of the Earth-Mars ferryships. Excelsior officially presented Triton to the United Nations, which approved the design for construction.
With funding secured and a final design approved for construction, Project Roundtrip gave way to the Hiker program. EISV Triton was renamed Extended Voyage (EV)/EISV Hiker, and construction began in Lunar orbit on 1 January 2078. Being some six times the length of the original space shuttle, billions in funds and considerable resources were redirected to her creation.
Construction of Hiker also saw the first instance of asteroid mining. In early 2080, in partnership with several private funds, NASA sent a series of probes to redirect a 3-kilometer iron-rich asteroid, 2023 Minston, into Martian orbit, where it was then disassembled and its resources transported to the Hiker shipyard. The endeavor is considered a remarkable milestone in human space chronology, as it marked one of the first instances where humanity gathered significant metal resources from outside Earth, as well as demonstrating that asteroid mining was possible and feasible in the long-term.
By 2082, Hiker was complete, and was subsequently moved to Earth orbit for initial flight trials. To take advantage of a close alignment in their orbits, Hiker conducted a successful test run from Earth to Mercury over the course of 2082 and 2083. Following her arrival back at Earth in 2083, she was declared fit for flight, and her crew was selected.
Of the twenty-five men and women selected to crew the ultimate flight, two were Ricanos. This caused outrage among many conservative Ricanos, who by this point, felt that La Paz de Los Ricos had absolutely no business in space. Protests even greater than those of twenty years prior befell Alvore̜sod, violence erupting simultaneously across every major Ricano city. Despite calls for their removal, the two Ricanos maintained their spot aboard Hiker, sparking global controversy.
By this point, the orbits of Jupiter and Saturn would not align in time for Hiker's arrival, so Excelsior and the United Nations were forced to choose a destination. Jupiter's colonial potential won the decision, and Hiker was ultimately ordered to perform a flyby over the Jovian moon Callisto and deposit some surface probes on it. The decision led one of the astronauts supervising the shipyard to jokingly mark "CALLISTO OR BUST!" on the ventral hull of Hiker's habitat module. The phrase subsequently became a rallying cry for supporters of the flight.
On 12 March 2085, the chosen crew boarded the vessel, and on the 13, EV/EISV Hiker, stocked for a seven-year maximum flight, finally left Earth orbit for Callisto. For many on Earth and on Mars, the event was a triumph of human ingenuity and spaceflight potential. For many Ricanos, the event was simply the latest in a long-lasting streak of ignorance from their Trialts. Even the recent Ricano general elections had done nothing to change this.
With La Paz de Los Ricos considered a valuable member of the Space Organization of the Excelsior Pact, many Ricanos feared that their government would only continue to ignore their demands for as long as they had a presence in space. Ricanos felt their only option left was to reform their government permanently, and abandon any further participation in humanity's burgeoning expansion into space. Tensions rose in La Paz de Los Ricos as the issue grew only more divisive as the end of the 21st century neared.
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