Less than a second after traversing the Jump Gate, Captain Fitzgerald’s ship materialised in a new star system. Cross-referencing with known star systems, the location was soon known.
It was none other than Alpha Centauri, Sol’s closest neighbour. Many now wondered whether the Jump Points led to locations close to their origin, or whether this was just a fluke. The system itself was fairly packed, with 5 planets around the main star and 8 around the binary partner, several of which were of a similar enough gravitational similarity to be considered “Earth-like”. None had breathable atmospheres or suitable temperatures, but these could theoretically be changed with enough infrastructure in place.
Captain Fitzgerald gave the order to begin construction on the return gate so that they could return home and spread the good news.
13th September, 2502
– The gate construction at JP3 was completed. The contruction ship under Commander Zhen traversed it, just as it’s sister ship had done previously.
Ross 248 was the destination, a system with many planets and asteroids. As before, work began on the return gate.
29th September, 2502
– 100,000 tons of Tritanium is discovered on the Moon by the 1st Geology Team. Hopes are high for more minerals to be discovered in the inner solar system.
– The third and final jump gate is finished, and is traversed by Commander Howells.
The destination is Proxima Centauri, the distant cousin to the two stars of Alpha Centauri. It is a dim star, and has no orbiting bodies to speak of. Work begins of the return gate.
30th November, 2502
– The first freighters are completed. These will be used to transport infrastructure throughout the solar system and beyond.
4th January, 2503
– JCS Constructor #1 arrives back in the Solar System and relays the news of Alpha Centauri’s discovery. There is public celebration, and private relief that all went as planned. Now that a route between the two systems exists, a newly commissioned Probe-class geosurvey vessel is dispatched to the system to scan for minerals.
5th Febuary, 2503
– JCS Constructor #3 arrives back in Sol with a similar story. The second Probe-class vessel is dispatched to Ross 248. Additional vessels of the class are laid down as the slow progress facing the ship in Ross 248’s asteroid-rich system becomes apparent.
5th March, 2503
– The Discovery-class vessels Lief Ericsson and Yuri Gagarin are laid down and begin construction. These ships take advantage of recent advances in sensor technology and are equipped with Jump Engines, allowing them to pass through Jump Points without the aid of Jump Gates. Their primary purpose is to scan for new Jump Points in the three newly discovered systems, and to then explore further should the opportunity arise.
26th May, 2503
– Uridium mines on Earth run dry. So far this has not been a mineral in high demand, but reserves are low and therefore hopes are high for finding sizeable deposits outside of Earth.
28th September, 2503
– Three more freighters are finished.
27th Febuary, 2504
– Two more Probe-class vessels are finished, and sent into Ross 248 to help with geosurvey effort ongoing in the system.
1st March, 2504
– An expert in Kinetic technologies is finally deemed worthy to head up a science team. Aditi Thampi joins the scientific establishment and begins work on improving railgun technology at once.
13th May, 2504
– The two Discovery-class vessels are completed, and are sent to scan Alpha Centauri and Ross 248 for new Jump Points.
17th July, 2504
– An new Jump Point is identified in Alpha Centauri.
5th September, 2504
– Mercassium deposits on Earth are depleted.
– An automated mining colony is setup on Jupiter’s moon Callisto. The moon has gigantic deposits of Neutronium and Mercassium. 30 Automated mining facilities and a Mass Driver are transported using freighters, and begin their robotic work of mining the minerals and flinging them towards Earth, to be caught by Earth’s own Mass Driver.
8th June, 2505
– Jump Point detected in Ross 248.
6th June, 2506
– Just under 51,000 tons of Sorium are detected on the Moon.
8th July, 2506
– 100,000 tons of Uridium are detected on the Moon. A similar mining colony to Callisto’s is set up on it’s surface. Geosurvey efforts on the Moon are deemed complete, and the 1st Geology Team is moved on to Callisto.
2nd August, 2506
– 100,000 tons of Vendarite are discovered on Callisto.
15th October, 2506
– The gravitational survey of Ross 248 is complete; in addition to the connection with Sol, it has one other Jump Point which is yet to be explored. The gravsurvey ship is sent to Proxima Centauri, to see if there are any additional Jump Points there.
4th January, 2507
– The geosurvey of the bodies in the Alpha Centauri system is complete. There are sizeable reserves of most vital minerals, although many are inaccessible and there is no body with an abundance of each one. Until the quantities and the ease of access are known for Ross 248, exploitation of these minerals will wait. Geosurvey ships active in Alpha Centauri are sent to Ross 248 to help complete the survey there.
15th November, 2507
– 100,000 tons of Corrundium discovered on Callisto
16th November, 2507
– Gravitational survey of Alpha Centauri completed. There is one Jump Point in addition to that which connects to Sol. The exploration ship engages it’s Jump Engine and traverses the Jump Point.
The newly-discovered system is Sirius. No planets orbit it’s tiny binary partner, but Three planets orbit the main star, including a large gas giant with 21 moons. The exploration ship begins scanning for new Jump Points.
28th August, 2508
– A Jump Point is discovered in Proxima Centauri.
11th December, 2508
– A Jump Point is discovered in Sirius.
11th January, 2509
– New breakthroughs in engine technology allow much greater fuel efficiencies to be obtained. As well as a new update of the previous large-scale engine, a small engine capable of much higher speeds but lower efficiencies is designed for future applications on military vessels.
24th April, 2509
– Proxima Centauri’s gravitational survey is completed. It has one additional Jump Point. The exploration vessel is sent to Ross 248 to traverse it’s unexplored Jump Point, after a refuel and resupply at Earth.
13th June, 2509
– Ross 248’s unexplored Jump Point is traversed.
Groombridge 34 is the new system, which includes a world close enough to Earth for colony proposals to begin from many angles. With a small amount of terraforming, the world could become habitable without any additional infrastructure – on the other hand, habitation modules could be constructed on Earth and transported over to provide housing for would-be colonists. Debates about the issue are ongoing for months.
27th August, 2509
– Jump Point detected in Sirius.
29th August, 2509
– Corrundium deposits on Earth are depleted.
13th November, 2509
– Jump Point in Groombridge 34 detected.
1st January, 2010
Charles Elliot surveys the map of the galaxy accessible from Earth. Five systems have been discovered, the three most immediate of which have been gravitationally surveyed, all of them revealing a further Jump Point. The more distant systems so far discovered are currently undergoing these surveys. Alpha Centauri has been completely geosurveyed, and revealed that the crucial Trans-Newtonian elements exist outside the Solar System, and in large quantities too. The geosurvey of Ross 248 is ongoing, but almost complete.
The main dilemma is now where to focus colonisation efforts. Outside of automated mines, there are no human colonies outside of Earth. Should the long-term prospect of some of Alpha Centauri’s planets take presendence over the relatively short-term but logistically harder planet in Groombridge 34? What of Mars – perhaps that would be a more suitable first step, despite it’s lack of minerals. These decisions would be resolved shortly, he hoped.