1900's[edit | edit source]
The human population is 1.9 billion. Rapid industrialization drives more and more of the population to move to the cities. The population of the world is trapped inside restrictive political systems, with nationalist propaganda using racial or cultural differences to justify difference of treatment… and wars. Roughly 10% of this century's population dies because of disputes over political differences.
2000's[edit | edit source]
During the last year of the old millennium, the total mass of humans and human food animals reaches 425 million tons -- 98% of the total vertebrate life on the planet. All resources are being exploited at a greater rate than they are being renewed. The world financial markets, predicated on endless growth, repeatedly stutter. In 2004, SpaceShipOne becomes the first private space flight to escape the Earth's atmosphere, whilst NASA grounds all of its own space vehicles.
2010[edit | edit source]
In this decade, private space flight is normalized. The wealthy reach out to the stars. In the second half of the decade, the first artificial orbiting hotel is built, though it's little more than a glorified space capsule to transfer money from one billionaire to another. The first asteroid mining operation is set up by Noxium Corporation, providing the raw materials to build in-system craft in space itself, leading to a rapid ramping up of those in-system craft all owned by Noxium.
2020[edit | edit source]
Near-Earth orbit buzzes with activity, the majority of it private. The space-going governments of the world such as China, the USA and Russia increasingly rely on private corporations to maintain their satellite networks. Closed-system human habitats in space are common for the wealthiest people and organizations, seeking to avoid Earth's problems and their taxes. Meanwhile, in all but the wealthiest nations, the focus is on disaster control, as water, food and power shortages spread, and the global temperature slowly creeps up. The western military alliances effectively become clients of a private military organization, Empire Management, which proves much more effective at deploying its veteran military to trouble spots around the world and much cheaper.
2030[edit | edit source]
The last of the ice in the Arctic Ocean melts. The first and last of NASA's interstellar probes are launched towards those stars which promise to hold life, before the agency's operations are permanently restricted by the latest Senate shutdown. A Togra University breakthrough on Alcubierre drive technology allows the probes to attain velocities near to 50% of the speed of light and makes Togra's name as the primary international educational institution. The Empire mercenary group starts colluding with the Noxium Corporation to divide up and limit access to space. Without Empire's military protection and access to Noxium's fuel, few space-going organizations survive long so the pair thrive, absorbing military-industrial competitors rapidly throughout the decade, and coming to be known by the name of the Ceres Cartel. The two spread their stations and ships throughout the solar system.
2040[edit | edit source]
Spiritual fads seize the starving masses of mankind, with the donations of billions poured into the coffers of mostly short-lived religions. However, one Via Salvatum, Also known as Divine Ascension grows out of a popular social media site. It combines traditional religious and monarchical values with modern marketing techniques, subliminal messaging and AI-driven blackmail, to become the world's dominant creed, absorbing new and old religions alike. Where this system doesn't take hold, a grass-roots Ecology movement known as Terra Salvum springs up, and affiliated governments take control of large swathes of Africa and South America. Their de-industrialization and forest-regrowth policies probably slow the peak of global warming by a decade.
2050[edit | edit source]
The peak of human population arrives, at just over 8 billion. Given the massive concentration of wealth in the hands of the few, the majority of humanity is working to keep a very few space-bound people in extreme luxury. Much of the world's arable surface is devoted to low-tech subsistence farming, hugely more inefficient than the high-tech farms of the developed world. The economy of space, under the increasingly-divided auspices of Noxium and Empire, barely notices the collapse of its Earthbound markets and begins a decade-long boom. A decade of Divine Ascension donations are poured into constructing a great prayer-wheel habitat in orbit around Venus, converting the sun's energy directly into automated prayer. A very few individuals with great faith in the system are raised up to the habitat, where they cryo-meditate, awaiting their ascension to a promised land.
2060[edit | edit source]
Like Napoleon 400 years before, the current leader of the Chinese community party eliminates his rivals on trumped-up charges and manages to quietly turn what started as a movement for equality into an inherited possession, essentially a monarchy. What will one day be called the Solar Dynasty is established -- and immediately buys itself access to space with the labor of a billion people, with the Prime Minister living in luxury aboard a private palace-cruiser in orbit around Saturn. The image-manipulation squads at Empire Management have the company re-branded Imperium, in tribute to (and parody of) the Solar Dynasty. In desperation for water, energy and minerals, the governments of the world turn inward and bloody-but-short wars are fought over the planet's remaining natural resources. The wars are bloody because, outside of Imperium's manpower-driven mercenary armies, the only weapons available to governments are atomic, bacterial or chemical and the only soldiers are guerrillas and insurgents. The wars stalemate, but leave even greater areas of once-arable land uninhabitable.
2070[edit | edit source]
Reports from NASA's interstellar probes at the exo-planet Tau Ceti e arrive at Earth. Though temperate, the planet is comprised entirely of iron and unsuitable for life. Sensing a commercial opportunity, Noxium immediately begins development on interstellar colony ships capable of traveling up to 70% of the speed of light, using updated versions of Togra's Alcubierre drive. The ships are great sleep-pods, packed with cryotech to keep the colonists hibernating en route with a minimalist military presence. To fund its own ships, Noxium sells others on the open market. Terra Salvum, unable to afford to buy them, steals the schematics. Skirmishes between the troops of Imperium and Noxium on asteroids like Callisto end the forty-year long Ceres Cartel, finally allowing widespread access to space again. Imperium steals the prototype colony ship from under Noxium's nose. In most regions, primitive Civil Service Artificial Intelligences take over a larger and larger part of society's operations, driven mainly by democratic populations determined to take power out of the hands of short-sighted, war-mongering governments.
2080[edit | edit source]
Pandora is discovered in 2081. Messages from a probe craft sent to the Nashira system fifty years before by the last of the space-going governments finally arrive back. They have discovered the first-and-only human-inhabitable world known as Pandora. The superterran planet is a paradise; satellite analysis shows it to be rich in resources and possibly life. In a bid to reverse global warming, the Civil Service AIs broker the first effective treaty on global warming and begin to seed the atmosphere with filtering and reflective materials, to start the planet cooling. Given their penury and impotence, the governments of the world issue a final joint statement from behind the Earth's thickening protective shroud. They declare Pandora a global nature preserve, to only be explored cautiously in the interests of Earth and the planet's own inhabitants, without exploitation, and warn of grave consequences if this diktat is ignored. Almost simultaneously, the orbital factions launch their colony ships towards Pandora.
2090[edit | edit source]
AI governments have taken over the day-to-day running of Earth. Their technology is racing ahead of the orbiting colonies, who can only watch the planet change. For example, when the last natural pollinators go extinct they are rapidly replaced by artificial ones.
2100's[edit | edit source]
Earth's atmosphere is almost 100% filtered by the late 2100's, preventing heat loss or gain, but also communications, which are extremely infrequent. Traffic between the surface of Earth and space slows and ceases. 2107 ship-date. Whilst the colony-ships are slowing down from their transit, the solar system's depopulated orbital habitats finally lose contact with the AI-dominated Earth. The few space-based sensors, when turned towards the surface, can only detect large-scale tectonic activity. The automated colony ships, carrying the worst and best of Earth's population, and traveling at 70% of light-speed, arrive at Pandora, on New Year's Eve 2107 (by the ship's atomic clocks). While special relativity means that only 24 years seem to have passed on board the ships, 33 years have passed on Earth and the shipboard passengers could have only seen the first 19 years of that. Within hours, the ships are disgorging their colonization pods towards the surface of Pandora, The first humans will soon settle...