A Brief History of the BSCI-1422 system
The 21st century saw humans terraforming Mars, floating in the upper atmosphere of Venus, boating on Europa, and more importantly, carving places for themselves in and on the smaller bodies of the Solar system. Ceres, Pallas, Vesta, even moons like Deimos.
This inhabitation encouraged infrastructure investment, prominently propellant depots for nuclear-thermal rockets and solar-powered laser pushing stations in low Solar orbit.
In the second half of the 24th century, a string of early attempts at interstellar travel, largely funded and developed by Earth-side powers but assembled in space, occurred in relatively quick succession.
This period ended with the launch of the Mugunghwa, sponsored by KARI, in 2390. Unfortunately, contact was lost relatively soon after launch, putting a damper on further investment.
In the late 2420s, the initial expedition from Russia reached Proxima Centauri, braking over the course of several orbits into the vicinity of Proxima c. While uninhabitable, the lessons learned over the last 400 years could be quite happilly applied to several planets in the system, with colonists living in constructed habitats in orbit and on the surface.
This, naturally, caused quite a stir on Earth. Watching the years out of date progress of people in another star system lit a fire under the nations of the world — everyone was funding colony ships, to go increasingly further from Sol and Earth.
One of these, the Candlelight, was built in collaboration between Korea’s KARI, wanting to avoid another complete loss like the Mugunghwa, Japan, who was engaged in several other partnerships at the same time, Australia, seeking more job opportunities for its citizens, and New Zealand, which, while dubious over the fission reactors in use, were seeking to encourage cooperation rather than conflict in new colonies.
The Candlelight was launched in 2448, and was gently shoved out of the solar system by a combination of photon and magnetic-plasma sails. For the launch, significant amounts of laser pusher time was bought, resulting in the largest amount of light intentionally focused on any object in history.
From the bow to stern, the Candlelight consisted of:
- a cluster of four dual-mode fission reactors, to provide power during the trip and to act as nuclear-thermal rockets during the braking manoeuvre
- a large conical slab of ice, doubling as a shield from cosmic debris and radiation, and a store of volatiles for running the ship
- a 5km by 1km spinning habitation cylinder, with a small self-contained ecosystem
- photon sails and associated rigging
After a 400 ship-year trip, with a boost from the Alpha Centauri laser pushing array, the Candlelight unfurled its sails, switched the nuclear reactors to NTR mode, and slowed down into orbit of BSCI-1422, ending up in the asteroid belt between a near-molten inner planet and a rather toasty gas giant with an extensive moon system.
The Shining Ring
After parking, the Candlelight ended up the capital of a loose alliance of space habitats all around the BSCI-1422 asteroid belt. Over the course of the next 600 years, many thousands of habitats were constructed from the raw resources in the belt, supporting anywhere between 20 and 20 million people, in the largest cases. Others sprung up in orbit of the system’s lone gas giant, or further out, in the multiple more distant spheres and rings of rocks.
Due to both the large transmission times associated with the large distances, and the sheer number of distinct communities, cultural changes happened quickly, but the most noticeable universal change was a switch from Earth-centric 24-hour time, to multiples of thousands of seconds — kiloseconds, megaseconds, etc — as it was universal, but 24 hours per day was only by convention.