1945 - 1969 - In the wake of a worldwide war, rocket engineering suddenly emerges as a new way for nations to prove their power. Two nations, the United States and the Soviet Union, quickly race to prove their superiority over one another with ever more audacious missions in space. The moon becomes the unofficial finish line.
1969 - Humanity reaches Earth's moon for the first time, two American astronauts landing and staying for only a few hours.
1969-1975 - Moon landing missions proceed as planned, with only one (fortunately non-fatal) failure. The American space program turns its attention toward developing a near-Earth shuttle.
1975 - With the public dissatisfied with missions in Earth orbit and clamoring for more exploration, the United States and the Soviet Union agree to schedule joint missions to the moon.
1975 - 1985 - Space funding ramps up yet again. Several other projects are quietly cancelled, including ARPANET and a separate initiative being pushed by one Seymour Cray.
1985 - 1995 - Many moon landings take place, each setting new records for duration and area explored.
1995 - 2005 - Many ambitious missions in space are planned and executed. The space industry remains the fastest growing field.
2005 - Moonbase Mir is established, jointly owned by the Russian and American space programs. Within a year, the facility is being manned permanently.
2012 - With great fanfare and many references to a past Kennedy speech, the American president announces plans to land a joint mission on Mars within a decade.
2022 - Humanity succeeds in landing on Mars, barely hitting the self-imposed deadline.
2033 - A tiny wormhole is opened for .039 seconds in a California lab. Theorists suspect that a wormhole can directly connect two arbitrary points in space, but they must be held open with "negative matter," which has yet to be actually observed.
2039 - The moon has now been settled permanently by several nations. Atmospheric generators begin the process of terraforming.
2044 - A laboratory working in materials science manages to produce both antimatter and negative matter.
2047 - Using a ring of injected negmatter, a wormhole is opened long enough to transport a single atom over several feet.
2054 - Much as the moon was, Mars has now been settled permanently. Using the knowledge gained from the moon project, terraforming begins promptly.
2059 - A sublight flight to Alpha Centauri, carrying a crew of 12, is launched.
2069 - Humanity reaches Alpha Centauri.
2071 - A wormhole transports a tiny steel ball bearing over five miles, shattering previous records for distance.
2075 - The first FTL communication system is developed, using wormholes kept constantly opened between two points.
2084 - A Chinese lab discovers a method of inducing temporary paralysis using carefully tuned sonics.
2090 - A wormhole transports a live mouse, proving that instantaneous transport is harmless to living flesh.
2094 - A second flight to Alpha Centauri is launched, carrying a large crew on a much faster ship, though the flight is still sublight.
2096 - While various ethics committees debate the issue, a scientist goes ahead and transports herself via wormhole.
2098 - Wormholes declared to be safe for humans, with no short- or long-term effects evident.
2099 - The second arrival at Alpha Centauri. This second flight brought a wormhole generator, and small objects and messages are transported via wormholes to and from Earth. The wormholes generated, unfortunately, are too small to carry people.
2101 - China develops its sonic subduing technology into a hand weapon. Other nations begin to develop the same type of weaponry.
2105 - Terrorists smuggle a large wormhole generator into Los Angeles. They open the wormhole's opposite end into space, and atmosphere promptly disappears for a radius of several blocks, killing hundreds, until the shoddy machine abruptly breaks down. Seeing the danger, wormhole generators above a certain size are almost immediately banned from operation within an atmosphere.
2117 - A manufacturer discovers a means of quickly and cheaply producing exotic matter.
2122 - Terraforming of the moon has been completed, the atmosphere requiring constant maintenance, but breathable.
2133 - After many years of painstaking design and testing, a prototype ship with a self-contained wormhole generator manages to transport itself instantaneously to Jupiter and back.
2135 - With a joint initiative from the United Nations members, a starship program is launched. The first few missions are a return to Alpha Centauri, but more ambitious exploring is planned. Talk begins of settling other solar systems.
2138 - Scientists develop a "reactionless drive" as another application of negmatter, greatly increasing sublight travel speeds.
2142-2165 - The UN exploration program continues to grow. Colonization efforts also begin, and several extrasolar planets are settled. Notably among these is New Earth.
2153 - With an unparalleled level of international cooperation taking place, the UN resolves to make Esperanto the official language of Earth for greater ease of communication. Within a decade, every child in an industrialized country is able to speak the language.
2165 - With many nations having poured a startling amount of resources into the colonization program, and with many of their best engineers now on other planets, the space boom abruptly ends. Nation after nation falls into a sudden depression.
2169 - The UN is forced to cease resupply flights to the colonies, except the nearest one in Alpha Centauri.
2183 - After many hardships, and a few colonies dying out completely, the remaining colonies finally stabilize and find themselves able to slowly expand.
2186 - Recognizing their common interests, the colonies (except for Alpha Centauri) form the Alliance of Extrasolar Unions, a government designed as an alliance of sovereign worlds.
2188 - With Old Earth's pride at its lowest and its confidence greatly shaken, there is an increasing clamor to go to war and win the colonies back. The United Nations begin to recover from the depression as they gear up for interstellar war.
2192 - AEU explorers find a set of mysterious objects that are clearly not of human origin. They become known simply as The Artifacts. Little else can be determined about them.
2194 - The UN of Old Earth suddenly launches its war effort. The AEU, forewarned and prepared, meets the Earther fleets in battle and struggles for its independence.
2197 - Interstellar war proves too difficult for the United Nations to maintain. Reluctantly, Old Earth withdraws its forces and agrees to recognize the AEU as a sovereign government.
2199 - The Torus, a large floating space station which appears to be of the same origin as the Artifacts, is discovered by the AEU.
2200 - On Old Earth, with the United Nations reeling, the Hispanic bloc seizes the moment and is elected into power, quickly instituting a series of reforms ironically modeled after the AEU's own government. By the end of the year, the UN has been remade into an interstellar-style government, known as the League of Old Earth Democracies.
2202 - First contact with the Galactic Egalitarian Alliance of Sentients occurs. A text-only message is received, inviting representatives of humanity to the Torus. Representatives from the AEU and League are sent, and are confused to find the Torus abandoned yet with life support systems running.
2204 - A second text-only message from the Galactic EAOS invites a small selection of humans (mostly scientists and philosophers) to form their own human chapter of the EAOS. These people move to the Torus permanently and quickly create their own set of laws. Thus a third alliance is formed.
2209-2233 - The League begins a new colonization initiative, settling a series of star systems well away from territory held by the AEU.
2219 - The League Shipyards are completed in order to construct larger, better starships to support the colonization effort.
2233 - On Old Earth, the American/European power bloc stages a (mostly) bloodless coup, deposing the Hispanic bloc. Many ongoing initiatives are cancelled, including the colonization effort.
2236 - With an unsympathetic, unsupportive government now in place on Old Earth, the newest colonies, still barely self-sufficient, draw together in order to ensure their own survival. The Confederation of Fringe Worlds is founded.
2238 - The Fringe Worlds formally declare their lack of ties of the League and their existence as a sovereign alliance of worlds. The League, predictably, responds by launching an attack.
2242 - The war is dragging on, with the Fringe Worlds exhibiting an unexpected fierceness in battle. Hoping to draw the war to a swifter, less deadly close, the AEU enters the war on the side of the Fringe.
2245 - League forces withdraw from Fringe space, agreeing to recognize the new alliance.
2246 - The EAOS, appalled at the levels of mortality in the recent war, make two declarations: first, they will take military action against any alliance which uses deadly hand weapons in space. Second, they will fully subsidize any person or company that can submit a design for a failure-proof rescue system in the event a starship is destroyed.
2247 - An engineer, one Edward Masterson, submits a design for a "rescue pod" system for starships. The EAOS, keeping to their agreement, provides the funds for Masterson to create his own shipbuilding company.
2248 - The AEU is making significant income from space salvage. To increase its revenue, it agrees to allow private, properly licensed citizens to own and operate starships. These citizen pilots can make significant income, even though fully 95% of it is taxed by their alliance.
2250 - As thousands of citizen pilots flock to space, Masterson's Intersector Shipbuilding Company emerges as the premier shipbuilder.
2252 - The Fringe quickly follows suit, though these citizens are less interested in making money peacefully, and more interested in pirating successful AEU ships.
2254 - With tensions rising, AEU military forces attack a gathering of Fringe citizen pilots, believed to be active pirates, in one of the Fringe's populated star systems. The Fringe lodges a formal protest, but the level of piracy drops for the time being.
2260 - The League, following the example of the AEU and Fringe, begins to produce ships for private citizens.
2265 - With relatively few debris-heavy sectors having been charted and provided with a beacon (a device that allows FTL-capable ships to immediately locate the sector), competition for space salvage grows fiercer as space fills with privately-owned starships. Soon, the flitter emerges as the most popular ship, as a balance between a small warship and a cargo ship.
2267 - The EAOS, interested in providing a haven for harried starship pilots, declares two sectors to be free from any violence, again backing this up with the threat of military force.
2268 - The EAOS launches its own program of private starship ownership. As its own people tend to be of a purely intellectual bent, it seeks to induct pilots from other alliances.
2269 - It is noticed that a great many citizen pilots are dropping off the radar, both figuratively and literally. Eventually it is determined that many pilots are striking out on their own, independent from their alliance, and finding a new life on the very fringes of Known Space. These pilots and their unknown numbers of family members become known as "unregistered."
2270 - Though the League economy is held afloat by the success of the Intersector Shipbuilding Company, it finds its revenues suffering due to a lack of planetary colonies. The government begins weighing its options.
2272 - The League declares the Fringe Worlds government invalid, citing contracts signed by the captains of each colonization starship back when the planets were first settled. The League launches a war effort.
2274 - The Fringe world Campeche is held under seige by League.
2275 - The EAOS unexpectedly intervenes, freeing Campeche. The League opens another front against the EAOS, but is startled and unsettled by the strange technology of EAOS starships. After a bare two months, the League signs a treaty with the EAOS.
2276 - The war between the League and Fringe Worlds ends. The League is again forced to recognize the sovereignity of the Fringe government.
2277 - A group of citizen pilots, now known as the Centauri Seven, use their vast wealth to buy every fusion reactor available in Outland City, and sell them at a much inflated price. When the pilots are successful in their scheme, other pilot groups in other alliances begin running rampant, doing much the same on planets all across Known Space. The problem remains greatest in the economically challenged League.
2278 - With the League economy weakened and tensions still high all around, the AEU sees an opportunity and launches a war effort against the League.
2280 - With private pilots seemingly more interested in their moneymaking schemes than supporting the war effort, cities begin to respond by banning pilots from entering at all, or at least selling products at greatly inflated prices. This soon becomes a policy widespread across all of Known Space. Private pilots begin to be thought of as rather unsavory characters. Membership in the pilot leagues dwindles, while more pilots disappear and become "unregistered."
2281 - AEU forces gather in Alpha Centauri, preparing for a massive push for Old Earth itself.
2282 - EAOS forces unexpectedly appear, entering the war on the side of the League. They drive the AEU ships from Alpha Centauri.
2283 - The AEU's interest in the war effort wanes. A treaty with the League is signed. It has become evident that the EAOS have taken a role as peacemaker.
2285 - In the wake of a rise of pirate activity, the Fringe Worlds are reprimanded for secretly promoting pirate factions.
2287 - Levels of membership in the pilot leagues have largely stabilized. Citizen pilots are still regarded mostly negatively by the general population, and the banning from most spaceport-less cities continues. However, becoming a pilot is still an attractive prospect for those who desire independence, wealth, or a simple desire to explore.
2295 - Amidst accusations of deception and outright fraud, Robin Domon and Courtney Brown are controversially reelected in the Confederation of Fringe Worlds.
August 2296 - Acting Vice-Marshal Nina Thomas leads a successful coup against the Domon administration. Thomas proceeds to declare a state of emergency which, as of this writing, has not since been lifted.
2287-2304 - Interstellar commerce between the four alliances continues to expand and evolve.