Manifest Destiny History
Following is a timeline of the Manifest Destiny official universe.
2008: The first commercial sub-orbital flights are offered to the paying public for $200,000 per seat. Demand is high.
2009: America's Space Prize is claimed by Virgin Galactic when the SpaceShipThree prototype completes three orbits and a simulated docking before returning to the launch site, and repeats it 43 days later with five orbits.
2010: Space Shuttle is decommissioned
2011: The supply gap for the International Space Station is filled through commercial manned and unmanned missions from various spaceflight firms.
2013: DARPA funding for advanced energy projects is increased to $3 billion per year. Priority is given to solar, nuclear fusion, and antimatter production research.
2014: The first commercial orbital flights are offered to the paying public for $3,000,000 per seat for five orbits.
2015: Project Constellation's Orion CEV completes it's first manned flight, one year behind schedule. NASA faced criticism for falling behind the private sector's space innovations.
2016: Bigelow Aerospace launches the first operational BA 330 "Nautilus" space habitat. It is operated as a space hotel, and receives regular visits from the three commercial orbital spaceflight carriers.
2016: Funded by DARPA's Advanced Energy grants, Antimatter Probes 1 and 2 are launched. Probe 1 stays in Earth orbit, investigating the Van Allen belts and solar radiation. Probe 2 is launched on an 18-month voyage to Jupiter and Saturn to investigate antimatter production and collection in the outer planets. The probes are hailed as having great research potential.
2017: Gasoline prices peak at $10 per gallon during a 4-month production shortage. New drilling increased the available crude oil, and government subsidization and re-negotiation of supply agreements with OPEC caused prices to stabilize around $6.50 per gallon. Commercial spaceflight continues at a reduced rate due to increased fuel costs.
2018: Construction on a $10 billion prototype fusion reactor ITER is completed. Initial tests indicate a less than expected output, striking a blow against prospects of fusion power. Modifications are planned.
2019: Man returns to the Moon using the Project Constellation's Lunar Surface Access Module (LSAM). A series of three flights were flown over two years to perform scientific research and deliver cargo.
2020: NASA releases the results of the Antimatter Probe program. Despite an instrument malfunction on Probe 2, the study confirms AM presence in Earth's Van Allen belts and around Jupiter and Saturn. It proclaims that an antimatter collector facility in Saturn's gravity well is possible, but not commercially feasable.
2022: The fourth LSAM flight to the Moon formally established a permanent base of two Americans astronauts and one Russian cosmonaut at Brighton Beach.
2022: An Australian PhD student writing a thesis on the 2020 NASA Antimatter Probe study stumbles over errors in the data compensation for the faulty instrument. Peer review confirms the student's conclusion that antimatter collection from Saturn can be profitable after a investment phase of 10-15 years.
2023: Partially due to increased usage, the world-wide supply of crude oil and petroleum fell quicker than expected, causing gasoline prices above $20 per gallon. Scandal erupted when it was revealed the falling supply levels had been known but kept secret.
2025: Scientist and policy makers from 54 countries convened the World Energy Panel of 2025. They avoided prohibitively expensive travel and collaborated via the internet. Encouraged by the recent results of the Antimatter Probes, the panel determined that the collection and creation of antimatter as an energy source is humanity's best hope for a global energy solution.
2027: A NASA-sponsored prototype antimatter collector is launched into Earth orbit. Initial measurements indicate a collection rate of up to 10 nanograms per year is possible from natural sources in Earth orbit. This confirms previous predictions and is a positive step towards sending full scale collector to Saturn.
2029: The SPAce Commercial Exploration (SPACE) Consortium is formed to support the commercial exploration and exploitation of space. Founding members agreed to contribute up to $200 million per year each, depending upon company revenue, for ten years to fund the necessary hardware development for bootstrapping the space economy. In return, they receive preferential access to resulting technology and spin-offs, as well as industrial contracts for the development and operation of this hardware. Members include the commercial space flight operators, space hotel developers, aerospace hardware contractors, and several energy groups.
2030: The SPACE Consortium evaluates several designs for a heavy lift spacecraft and selects the Salamander and space-rated Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit (TEU) system for further development. The Salamander is to be the primary spacecraft for use in Earth operations. The TEU will become a de facto standard for orbital cargo.