The bidding process took years. Prospective corporations needed to demonstrate they had the financial resources, technological sophistication, and administrative capabilities to carry out the monumental undertaking. This high barrier to entry led to a wave of corporate mergers and joint ventures, creating a new class of mega-corporations whose sole purpose was to win colonization rights.
Of the 8,000 corporations that submitted proposals, 7 were selected to lead a colonization, with Kepler Corporation winning the rights to colonize Arcturus in 2465.
Kepler Corporation funded its Arcturus colonization through a combination of private equity investment (investors were promised a share of resources harvested in Arcturus) and the sale of subcontracts to smaller corporations specializing in terraforming, farming, banking, construction, engineering, and mining. Kepler also sold a few full-priced tickets to the adventurous ultrawealthy, but the vast majority of the 19 million passengers on Kepler Arks fully or partially funded their journey with indentured-labor contracts. Perhaps it was passion for exploration—or just economic desperation—that motivated citizens of the Sol to sign up in droves for colonization missions, despite the substantial risk, not to mention the likelihood of never seeing their homes or families again.
In 2500, 127 Kepler Arks departed from Earth to Arcturus. The 37-lightyear journey would take 150 years.
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