Tales from the Edict 24 - Knowledge is Everything
Updated: May 3, 2021
In 2036 the last of what were known as the Discovery Fleet of orbital satellites lifted off from the newly upgraded and expanded facilities at Sary Shagan, Kazakhstan. Andalusi at 5422kg (11,953lbs) is another nuclear-powered orbital platform destined for Uranus carrying with it three autonomous devices, two atmospheric flyers and a small satellite Al'akhu Al'asghar (eng. Little Brother) that will go on to investigate the planetary moons. Unlike its bigger brother Al'akhu Al'asghar is built around the nuclear power core. It is scheduled to depart Andalusi only after successful atmospheric dredging by the two flyers Amare and Akilah. The plan is to switch Andalusi to a methane oxygen power system, Amare recovering the methane and Akilah designed to collect water crystals and catalyse them to provide oxygen. While the flyers are able to perform both roles, each has a higher degree of adaptation to enable greater efficiency in their primary role. If the process is successful, Little Brother will disengage from the bigger orbital component of the mission and continue onward, using the nuclear power source as its primary propulsion, the distance from the sun making solar energy inadequate.
It is estimated that by 2042 approximately 90% of humanity’s knowledge of the outer planets of the solar system and their moons (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune) will be held by LOPEC. The cartels reluctance to share this knowledge for scientific purposes has led to calls for a boycott but LOPEC has moved steadily towards the point where it would no longer be significantly constrained by any such action. The new facilities at Sary Shagan, Kazakhstan, were built with approval by Russia who were planning to downgrade their own Baikonur Cosmodrome upon the construction of a new facility further west. Indications are that the Baikonur lease by Russia may not be renewed in 2050.
Further speculation has suggested that LOPEC would seek partnership with other organisations in return for the data they hold on planets and moons, but that seems unlikely once LOPEC made a formal application for a 4E licence in 2039. Additionally, MBRSC and the UAE Space Agency recently announced two new missions to Jupiter and Saturn, both launches of components that will eventually conjoin with existing orbiting space vehicles. This will provide a midlife system upgrade and enhanced capabilities for Altair and Venture, though details remain scarce. What is clear is that LOPEC has set out to gain a detailed knowledge of the solar system before embarking on manned missions, which has put it in a unique and exciting position for the future of space exploration.
LOPEC was granted the fourth of five 4E licences for corporate exploitation and export of resources to Earth.