2145: The Legendary Maori

With the widespread adoption of shared-cognition technology and the explosion of AI that defined the 21st and 22nd centuries, fantastic breakthroughs in the world of physics, matter manipulation and engineering proliferated. However, the stars remained out of humanity’s reach until the invention of the Helium Ionic Thruster engine by the United Nation’s Multinational Astronomic Research Administration (MARA), led by Dr. Abu Maori. The HIT engine was a major breakthrough in cosmic exploration: It not only allowed spacecraft to accelerate to previously impossible speeds (up to a quarter of the speed of light), it was also hyper-efficient, allowing them to run on the infinitesimal amount of helium present in the interstellar void. Ships could now collect their fuel as they traveled, opening the door for interstellar voyages.

MARA sent thousands of HIT engine–powered probes to hundreds of neighboring solar systems. Over the next two hundred years, data from the MARA probes flooded in, reporting endless opportunities for exploration and wealth creation in select solar systems now within the reach of humanity.

In the ensuing three centuries, the HIT engine was adapted for widespread commercial use to transport people and cargo quickly within the Sun’s solar system (the Sol). While these adapted HIT engines did not have the capacity to reach the speeds of their interstellar cousins, they could still attain speeds in excess of 5 million mph.

With this leap in travel technology, the Sol was transformed. Transplanetary trade between colonies reached unprecedented levels. Research and advancements in terraforming and world-building methods enabled humanity to turn once-lifeless rocks into new Earths.

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