American Extrasolar Colonization Administration
Stardrive development in the late 21st century ushered in a new age of colonization for Earth. As habitable worlds were discovered by probes and survey vessels, plans were speedily made in many nations to colonize these worlds-not only did colonization allow new access to mineral and agricultural resources, but it enhanced a nation’s prestige as well.
The problem that plagued the colonization efforts of the mid- to late 22nd century was a matter of organization. Coordinating colonization efforts on numerous worlds was more than difficult: it was nearly impossible. Supplies were sent to the wrong destination (or were lost completely), urgently-needed items were not available, and colonists were often unprepared or ill-equipped for the rigors of colonial lite on the frontiers of space. Although massive amounts of time and money went into colonization, without coherent organization these valuable commodities were wasted.
All nations involved in colonization efforts developed agencies to handle the immense task of administering interstellar colonization. America was among these nations, and its colonization administration agency, the American Extrasolar Colonization Administration, was formed in 2172. In signing the Interstellar Colonization Act which created AECA, President Harrison Teague opened the door for an organization designed to “evaluate the suitability of habitable worlds for colonization, and to plan and coordinate all such colonization measures.” AECA fell under the direct supervision of the president. An old Bicentennial design was repurposed for the Administration’s seal and America’s new push to the stars.
The First Century
AECA’s first years were spent on the development of systems designed to help coordinate the flow of information and supplies. Stockpiles of emergency supplies were established to ensure the availability of crucial goods for new colonies when they were formed. Contracts for the construction of fast courier ships were signed with the American Space Force. And AECA directors contracted with private corporations to supply essential materials. At the same time, guidelines for colonization procedures were established in conjunction with the North American Research League (NARL). All aspects of an environmental nature were covered by NARL’s guidelines, especially those involving pollution.
The discovery of King in 2192 provided AECA with its first challenge. The massive planet posed many problems for AECA engineers: How could humans colonize King, with its immense gravity and crushing atmosphere? How could they breathe the sulfurous air? And how could they possibly recruit colonists to live in what could only be called hell?
AECA acted quickly. The Medical Division coordinated the activities of researchers at the University of Toronto, the North Carolina Institute of Technology, and Johns Hopkins University, and developed the DNAM virus within only two years. Trilon Corporation provided a compact air scrubber to filter sulfur out of the air. And the president authorized large monetary incentives for colonists.
These efforts, and a brilliant public relations campaign designed by AECA’s Relations Division, allowed America to begin colonization of King in 2194. The colonists founded their colony at Mayflower on a site which had been prepared for them by American Space Force engineers working under the supervision of AECA. The New Columbia colony was off to a good start.
During the next 20 years, New Columbia grew steadily, despite low numbers of new colonists. Congress’ decision in 2215 to send convicts to King was opposed by AECA, but the president supported congress, and AECA stood helplessly by while the colony ground to a halt. During the Tantalum Strike, AECA continued to provide material support to New Columbia, and when the strike was over, AECA resumed normal operations on King.
The colonization of Hermes began almost at the same time as the Tantalum Strike on King. AECA transported large amounts of farming equipment from Earth to Hermes at great expense, in the hope of establishing an agrarian colony on that world. Despite high morale and support from both Australia and the Alberta Farmers ‘ Cooperative, the Hermes colony was never really productive. Hermes· arctic temperatures, barren ground, and a lack of permanent support facilities on the ground all conspired to make life difficult for Hermes’ farmers.
The discovery of Ellis in 2220 provided AECA with yet another possible colony world. Unfortunately, AECA’s directors felt that a dying desert world was no place to start another colony, especially since almost all of AECA’s efforts were being spent on keeping the colony on Hermes alive. However, the Alberta Farmers’ Cooperative’s proposal to form an agricultural colony on Ellis finally won support at AECA. Engineers began construction of a colony site near one of Ellis’ seas, and on July 17, 2229, the first settlers arrived at Liberty.
By 2245, Ellis was producing most of the food shipped along the American Arm, and Hermes was deep in an economic depression. In 2255, just as it seemed that the colony on Hermes was doomed to failure, two industrialists from Earth—Kim Silva and Jennifer Storher—announced their intentions to begin the Mule Corporation on Hermes. AECA provided the Mule Corporation with transportation and technical assistance for two years-until 2257, when the first vehicle rolled out of Mule’s factory in the city of Hope.
2275 to the Present
AECA’s paramount role in the affairs of the American Arm has diminished somewhat over the past 25 years. With the granting of statehood to Ellis in 2276, AECA no longer administers that world, although it is still responsible for ensuring that new colonists arrive on a regular basis and for administering the Homestead Act.
AECA does, however, still administer King and Hermes. On King, things are moving along just as they always have. On Hermes, however, the AECA-appointed governor, Malcom Durran, has been pressing to make Hermes the 51st state.
The various corporations on Hermes, especially Trilon Corporation, oppose this move, as they fear increased governmental regulation of their business activities. Although AECA has nothing to do with granting statehood to any colony, Hermes’ corporate sector has called for AECA to remove Durran from office.
AECA is now sponsoring the Lowe Act, an initiative which, if passed by Congress, would allow Indonesia, the Scandinavian Union, and New Zealand the opportunity to form their own colonies on Avalon (DM+51 2204 I) using American starships and technical support. If the act passes, these three nations could have colonies on Avalon by 2315.
AECA is divided into five divisions, each of which is responsible for a different aspect of colonization.
- Engineering Division: The EDiv is responsible for the design and construction of the colonies proper. On each of the American colony worlds, this involved preliminary surveying and laying out of the initial settlements. EDiv maintains bases of operation on Abernathy (King’s largest moon), Boise in the Ellis system, and Chryse Planitia on Mars. Critical stockpiles of materials are stored at these bases for use in the event of an emergency.
- Medical Division: Operating in conjunction with the Center for Disease Control at LaGrange-4, the MDiv is responsible for seeing that all colonists are properly inoculated before they emigrate. MDiv is also in charge of all preliminary testing of potential colony worlds for possibly virulent diseases.
- Transportation Division: The TDiv operates the nearly 30 colonization vessels which transport colonists and cargo to the colony worlds. TDiv vessels may be found almost anywhere in the arm, delivering supplies and moving AECA personnel from one location to another. AECA’s charter also allows the TDiv to commandeer any American nonmilitary vessel for its own use in the event of an emergency.
- Relations Division: The RDiv is responsible for AECA’s public relations and for attracting colonists. The current program involves an extensive ad campaign targeted at those who are tired of the hustle and bustle of modern America those who want to “return to a simpler time.” In recent years, fewer people have responded to RDiv’s campaigns. RDiv is planning to offer monetary incentives in an effort to increase the number of emigrants.
- The Advisory Council: The Advisory Council, known as “the administration,” is the primary decision-making entity within AECA. The council consists of divisional administrators, AECA’s scientific advisors, planetary governors, and several members of congress. The council is headed by a director, currently Dr. Katherine Lennox of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Advisory Council makes its headquarters in Annapolis, Maryland.
AECA’s Scope of Operations
AECA employs nearly 75,000 employees, approximately half of whom are based at AECA’s headquarters in Maryland. The remainder of AECA’s personnel are divided among the American colony worlds (King, Hermes, Ellis, and, to some extent, Kie-Yuma), AECA’s logistics bases (on Abernathy, Boise, and Mars), and AECA transport and courier ships. Small numbers of AECA scientists and engineers are operating in the DM+43 2796 branch of the American Arm, studying the three habitable worlds located there. For its own use, AECA owns and operates 28 Conestoga-class colonization vessels. These massive ships form the backbone of America’s colonization fleet; in the past, the Conestogas have transported almost one million American colonists to their new homes among the stars. Also in operation are 10 Ryder-class courier vessels. These ships keep all of AECA in constant contact with both the administration and with each other.
- King: AECA maintains a strong presence on King. Because of the importance of the tantalum industry to America, AECA keeps a close rein on the activities of the various mineralogical firms which operate in New Columbia. All the American firms are assigned an AECA field officer whose job is to monitor mineral claims and coordinate transportation of minerals, especially tantalum, to the orbital refineries.
- Hermes: AECA is also a dominant force on Hermes. On Hermes, however, most of AECA’s effort goes into the construction and maintenance of colony sites. The nature of the corporate sector on Hermes is such that AECA must do little to attract colonists; most on Hermes have been transferred there by their companies. Recently, AECA’s focus has been on the development of a viable intercity transportation net to connect Hope, Burgess, and Grey Hill.
- Ellis: AECA no longer administers Ellis; since it became a state in 2276, America’s most distant colony world has managed most of its own affairs. AECA is still responsible for the transportation of new settlers to Ellis, however, since in the eyes of congress, Ellis is still a colony world.
Adventures with AECA
Because of its research program on the DM+43 2796 subarm, AECA is interested in persons with exploration, military, and/or scientific skills. Many positions are available to qualified personnel who apply at a local AECA office, and pay is consistent with American federal standards (that is, pay is very good). The risks are also high.
Although the PCs will not be the first to visit these worlds, they will often be the first to spend any length of time there. New dangers, some unlike any ever encountered, await the unwary.
Several projects are underway along the American Arm.
- Highland: Discovered by the American Space Force in 2267, Highland is considered by many in AECA to be prime territory. With its temperate climate and fertile soil, Highland would make an ideal colony if not for one thing: the ravvers. These native life forms are one of the most vicious and dangerous life forms ever encountered by man, and large numbers of them infest all of Highland’s major landmasses. Adventurers may be asked to search for a means to neutralize these creatures so that colonization might begin.
- Avalon: This mysterious, clouded world located in the DM+51 2402 system is another potential colony world. It is most notable for its abundance of petrochemicals.
- Alighieri: This fiery world quickly attracted the attention of AECA. Despite the tremendous mineral wealth of King, America’s first colony world, Alighieri’s almost normal gravity and lower temperatures make this mineral-laden world seem inviting. The player characters may be asked to perform a survey of Alighieri’s surface to search for possible colony sites.
- The Beta Aquilae Sector: While exploration of this region is only in the preliminary stages, AECA hopes to begin evaluation of worlds in this area of space within the next 10 years. It is believed that several habitable worlds may be located in this sector.
—by Clay Johanson, AECA seal by Patrick Murphy