Spellflight ยป Contact Lost » Timeline

Author's Note: While real-world events are incorporated into my universe's history, this is most definitely a work of fiction.

1947 - A Project Mogul "weather balloon" crashes in Roswell, New Mexico.

1972 - Apollo 17 leaves the Moon, completing the first lunar exploration initiative that started in 1969 with Apollo 11.

1976 - Viking 1 photographs the Cydonia region on Mars and discovers a feature called the Face on Mars. It is dismissed as an optical illusion.

1978 - An American expedition discovers an ancient pyramid in South America rivaling the size of the pyramid of Choula. It takes ten years to translate the Quinametin language. Stories from the pyramid claim that the Quinametin created "heavenly chariots to explore the night sky."

1981 - Maiden flight of the National Aerospace eXploration Administration's (NAXA) Space Transportation System. Columbia (OV-102) orbits the Earth for two days before returning home.

1983 - Maiden flight of Challenger (OV-99), named after a British corvette that was the command ship for the Challenger Expedition, as well as the Apollo 17 lunar module. Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) announced. Vanguard SDI space station program begun.

1984 - Maiden flight of Discovery (OV-103), named after Captain Cook's last exploration ship.

1985 - Maiden flight of Atlantis (OV-105), named after the R.V. Atlantis, a 2-masted sailing ship operated by the Woods Hole Oceanic Institution.

1986 - Challenger (OV-099) disaster results in the US Air Force creating a competition for assured access to space for military satellites. YF-19A Saber project begun. USSR's Mir space station launched.

1987 - Maiden flight of USSR's Energyia, carrying the Polyus laser satellite into orbit. Rockwell's proposal to build two space shuttle orbiters for the price of one is modified to produce one orbiter from structural spares and another via extensive refit of Enterprise. (OV-101). NAXA announces a development program to replace the Shuttle solid rocket boosters, responsible for the Challenger accident, with liquid rocket boosters (LRB). The new LRBs will share technology with the upcoming Titan IV. Upgraded solid rocket boosters will continue to fly on the Shuttle until the new LRBs are available.

1988 - Maiden flight of USSR's Buran space shuttle on the back of an Energyia rocket. US space shuttles return to flight.

1989 - Maiden flight of the US Air Force Titan IV. The Titan IV uses twin liquid rocket boosters, each powered by a single modernized F-1A rocket engine.

1990 - YF-19A program cancelled due to escalating costs. Modernized Big Gemini (a.k.a. Blue Gemini) backup plan begun.

1991 - Collapse of USSR. USA's shuttle-derived National Launch System (NLS), a joint military/civilian, shuttle-derived heavy lift launch vehicle project begun.

1992 - Space Shuttle Endeavour (OV-105), built to replace Challenger, makes its maiden flight. It is named after the HMS Endeavour, which took Captain Cook on his first voyage of discovery. Endeavour was built from structural spares created during the construction of Discovery (OV-103) and Atlantis (OV-104). The sale of Russian space technology to a number of Middle Eastern and Asian countries spurs the United States to reach a cooperative space agreement with the former Soviet Union. NAXA proposes a joint US/Russian/ESA mission to Mars to Congress, but it is rejected in favor of inviting the Russians to participate in a revised space station program.

1993 - Space Shuttle Enterprise, the first space shuttle ever built, makes its maiden spaceflight after extensive refit. Enterprise was originally built for Approach and Landing Tests to validate the space shuttle airframe. She is named after the Enterprise from CBS' Star Trek television show.

1994 - Maiden flight of the Military Space Access System (MSAS), also known as Big Blue Gemini. Vanguard station handed to the National Aerospace eXploration Administration (NAXA), Vigilance, its backup, is mothballed; Gemini-derived Aardvark Freighters converted into man-tended space stations prove cheaper for SDI research. Space Shuttle Enterprise docks with Mir.

1995 - The Air Force launches its Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program. Spartan Aerospace proposes a LOX/LH2 design while Orbital Dynamics proposes the Titan LRB-based Atlas. Newcomer Wild Blue Industries proposes a new rocket design. Maiden flight of NLS delivers first component of the Ronald Reagan Strategic Defense Laser Satellite (SDLS-1) to orbit.

1996 - Solid rocket boosters used on the NLS and Shuttle flights are phased out in favor of liquid rocket boosters powered by modernized F-1A rocket engines.

1997 - China becomes the third nation to launch humans into orbit with their Shenzhou (Divine Vessel) spacecraft.

1998 - Vanguard renamed Freedom and launched to form cornerstone of the International Space Station (ISS). Two months later, Enterprise delivers Node 1, known as Unity. Iran becomes the fourth nation to launch humans into orbit using their Soyuz-derived Kavoshgar (Explorer) spacecraft.

1999 - SDLS-1 completed. Instead of shooting down ballistic missiles, it is used to clean up orbital debris. Russia annouces that Zvezda, the cornerstone of the Russian Orbital Segment of the ISS, will be delayed by two years. In the meantime, Aardvark Space Tugs are used to provide guidance, navigation, and control of the fledgling station.

2000 -  Clementine III, a used SpyGlass satellite donated by the National Reconnaissance Organization (NRO), photographs footprints on the far side of the Moon on May 5th. The published images immediately become frontpage news. No modern space agency can lay claim to them. Tracking the footprints leads to a hidden Ancient Astronaut lunar facility. A multinational mission to the Moon is announced a few months later. Wild Blue Industries' Appaloosa 111 launch vehicle makes its maiden flight, shattering price/performance barriers. America's current light, medium, and heavy lifters are the Appaloosa 111, Atlas, and NLS respectively.

2001 - China launches their Tiangong-1 (Heavenly Palace) man-tended space station into orbit and follows up with their first docking of two spacecraft in orbit. Zvezda docks with the Freedom core module.

2002 - North Korea becomes the fifth nation to launch humans into orbit with their Soyuz-derived Ttuenaegi (Wanderer) spacecraft. A month later, Pakistan becomes the sixth nation to orbit humans. Asian Space Alliance (ASA) formed. SDLS-1 demonstrates the ability to shoot down a ballistic missile in flight. The USA warns North Korea against using their missile technology against their neighbors.

2003 - Columbia disaster. Foam shed from the external tank strikes the shuttle's fragile heat shield and punches a hole. NAXA-owned Big Gemini spacecraft provide crew transfer. India becomes the seventh nation to launch humans into orbit. Three vyomanauts take the ride up hill on India's Urana Ratha (flying chariot). Later that year, they launch their Vimana (flying palace) man-tended space station and dock with it.

2004 - Vision for Space Exploration (VSE) established. Appaloosa 131 makes its first flight. The European Space Agency (ESA) launches their first Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV). It docks with the International Space Station (ISS) without incident. Obital Dynamics' Shuttle LRB-derived Saturn 2 makes its debut flight.

2005 - US space shuttles return to flight. They're dedicated to finishing the ISS.

2006 - Mars Global Surveyor confirms that water exists on Mars. The Multinational Lunar Mission (MLM-1), funded by the ASA, European Space Agency (ESA), NAXA, and the Russian Space Agency (RSA), lands on the far side of the Moon to investigate the Ancient Astronaut facility. NAXA supplies Big Gemini and the Aquila Lunar Surface Access Module (LSAM). Russia and ASA supply soft-landed space stations converted into a habitat and laboratory, respectively. ESA supplies Big G's "camper shell" and Earth-Moon Lagrange 2 (EML-2) communications satellite. The explorers discover that humanity reached the Moon thousands of years ago and visited other planets in the solar system. A cache of exotic metal that closely matches Plato's description of orichalicum is discovered. Neil A. Armstrong International Moon Base (IMB) established.

2007 - Using language cyphers from the South American pyramid, writings on the walls of the Ancient Astronaut facility, dubbed the Observatory, are translated in January. A host of new technologies including a viable space-time skip drive (mislabeled a "warp drive" by the media) are discovered in the process. Where they got that technology from remains a mystery; popular media claims it came from Atlantis, though evidence suggests the technology is much older. There are enough clues in the translations to reverse-engineer the technology. The Big Four realize how disastrous it would be if the general public had access to Ancient Astronaut technology and materials, so they agree upon how to safely introduce it.

2008 - A race begins to be the first nation in modern history to achieve warp- a.k.a. the Warp Race. USA flies three flights to the Moon per year; unlike initial flights, an upgraded NLS flies the Big Gemini/LSAM stack in one shot like the Saturn V days of yore. Mars Ranger spots mining tracks in the Tithonium Chasma on Mars. They are quickly attributed to the Ancient Astronauts. Driving into the mines reveals veins of orichalicum. ESA's Newton spacecraft makes its debut, marking the eighth space organization to launch humans into orbit. The Newton Command Module takes the place of the ATV's pressurized cargo module. Newton quickly supplants NAXA-owned Big Gemini as lifeboats for ISS.

2009 - Public fears that Earth might be invaded by Ancient Astronauts lurking in the solar system reaches an all time high. Construction begins on Vigilance Air Force Station. Enterprise is devoted to the military station's assembly, as is Discovery. The next two years mark the busiest Shuttle launch schedule in history, with 12 per year, but NAXA delivers without risking safety.

2010 - The Prometheus Project, a program on the scale of the Manhattan Project designed to reverse-engineer Ancient Astronaut technology, yields results. A prototype fusion reactor and prototype thermodynamic engines are launched into orbit to become part of Vigilance. The engine module is not formally acknowledged and neither the Air Force nor NAXA will comment on it.

2011 - Space Transportation System retired after Enterprise completes STS-144. ISS completed. It serves as a national space research laboratory.

2012 - USA formally announces the existence of Black Box Technology (BB Tech) on December 21. Fusion reactors and thermodynamic engines based on Ancient Astronaut technology announced as the flagship BB Tech products. As with nuclear technology and materials, the general principals of Black Box Technology are revealed to the public while specific details are kept classified, and access to orichalicum- which remains incredibly rare- is strictly controlled. The public is floored about the origins of BB Tech.

2013 - Vigilance Air Force Station completed and designated Deep Space Exploration Vehicle, hull number 1 (DSEV-1). Uncrewed American supply rockets launch towards Mars. Big Blue Gemini retired; commercial crew vehicles, the upcoming Shuttle II, and a military flying wing shuttle take its place. Wild Blue Industries launches the first component of its Commercial Space Station, known as SkyRanch. SkyRanch is completed within a year. The Reusable Airless Body Ballistic Intermodal Transport (RABBIT) makes its debut and quickly replaces the Aquila LSAM. USA announces that it has reverse-engineered the Ancient Astronaut's space-time skip drive. Mars Excursion Vehicle (MEV) makes its first successful deorbit and landing test from Low Earth Orbit.

2014 - Maiden flight of Shuttle II delivers first component of Gateway Station to Earth-Moon Lagrange point 2 (EML-2). Gateway's modules are primarily built by ESA as part of a 2005 agreement to fly ESA astronauts to the Moon. Vigilance launches towards Mars, arriving late September, 2014. Construction of NAXA's Nautilus (DSEV-2) begun. China carefully extracts orichalicum from a buried storage shed in the perimeter of the First Emperor's palatial tomb. DSEV-1 establishes the Percival Lowell Research Outpost in the Tithonium Chasma. They mine veins of orichalicum ore from the Ancient Astronaut mines. Orbital Dynamics, Spartan Aerospace, and Wild Blue Industries team up to form the Shackleton Mining Company (SMC). SMC is the first commercial company to provide end to end transportation from the Earth to the Moon, and the first company to mine water from the Moon. US-Russian relations sour over issues such as Syria, Ukraine's independence, and Russia's human rights issues.

2015 - Wild Blue Industries' SkyRanch is destroyed by ASA space fighter. In response, the 2015 Military Space Act is approved; USAF reaffirmed as responsible for defending America's space interests and can now commission space-rated warships. By overwhelming public demand, U.S. Marines are stationed aboard Air Force stations and ships. Work on Vanguard Air Force Station, named after the 1983 military space station, begun. Vanguard is tasked with protecting American space assets in cis-lunar space.

2016 -  ASA, Russia, and USA all achieve warp capability. USA loses the Warp Race to ASA and Russia, but nobody has a faster-than-light ship; the ships are limited to 0.15 AU per day. Instead of taking 8-9 months to reach Mars from Earth, warp ships can travel to Mars in as little as two days to as long as two weeks depending upon where Earth and Mars are in relation to each other. Big Blue Gemini pulled from retirement and remade into a space fighter, the FS-1B Bronco.

2017 - Construction begins on SkyRanch II. Vigilance returns to Earth for refit. No evidence exists that the Quinametin still reside in the solar system. It appears that they explored the solar system and then leapt for the stars. What happened to them and those they left behind remain unknown.

2018 - The present year. National Launch System retired; commercial heavy lift takes its place. Refit of Vigilance completed; she becomes the United States Air Force Vessel (USAV) Vigilance, America's first warship in space. Nautilus (DSEV-2) completed. While preparing to leave Saturn and warp to Uranus, all transmissions suddenly cease from Nautilus. Contact lost.


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