The Department of Space Exploration and Colonization, more commonly known as DSEC, is the agency of the United Earth government that is responsible for overseeing civilian activities in space, and for astronautics and aerospace research. Its mission statement is, "To explore new worlds, peaceably contact new civilizations, and develop space for human settlement."
DSEC is headed by the Secretary of State for Space, and is internally divided between two administrations: The Colonial Office, and the Exploration Office. The first Secretary of State for Space,
The Colonial Office is charged with overseeing the Terraformation of planets, construction of space colonies, settlement of humans to space, and management of space-based resources. The first Director of the Colonial Office Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, who would later go on to be Secretary of State for Space, laid the groundwork for the Office by building the first colonies on the Moon, Mars, and Asteroids only five years after the end of the War, and directed half of the Office's budget towards Terraforming research.
The Second Director of the Colonial Office, former President Nathan Alder, carried then Secretary Tyson's work forward by beginning Terraforming efforts on Mars and Venus, and funding the settlement of the outer planets.
Before the arrival of the Ch'rix Colonization Fleet an experimental colonization project was put into motion by Director Tyson. The project featured newly reverse engineered Ch'rix cryogenics and quantum processor technology. President Alder approved of the project during the test phase on Earth, but would eventually come to oppose the project after evidence of imperfections in the processors and cryogenics pods were discovered. The project was pushed forward dispite the now retired President and former Director's protests, and a fleet of 120 ships were launched for the the Kepler-16 system (The destination had been changed five times over the course planning period, but settled on Kepler-16 due to its distance from Ch'rix homeworld.
The Exploration Office is charged with charting the cosmos and conducting scientific endeavors to unknown regions of space. They are always the first to arrive at a new star system. When DSEC was established the Exploration office was actually given very little funding, as colonization and developement were the main priority of the agency. Under the Alder administration it was primarily tasked with R&D projects around long range spaceflight. During these early years the office helped develop Quantum Vaccum Anti-Matter drive used on early human interstellar spacecraft. The agency also spent a great deal of energy on trying to resurect the theoretical Alcubierre/White-Juday Drive.
In 2039 the Exploration office launched its first series of interstellar probes under Project Daedalus. The Five Daedalus probes were tasked with exploring nearby star systems thought to harbor habitable worlds. They were launched using information from both human and Ch'rix observatories.
- Daedalus I: Alpha Centauri System
The Daedalus I mission featured the first series of Quantum Vacuum Antimater drive. The spacecraft, roughly the size of a Typhoon class attack submarine, took 6 years to reach Proxima Centauri, travelling at 0.72c. The spacecraft was unsuccessful in its mission to find a habitable world in the Alpha Centauri System, and only found one large terrestrial moon orbiting one of the trianary star system's 18 gas giants.
The moon, named Jotunheim, is a cryosphere similar to Europa, but closer in size and mass to Mars. Jotunheim was discovered to feature a fairly small subsurface ocean, rocky peaks breaking through the ice, and a thin atmosphere of oxygen. No life can survive on its surface due to its thin atmosphere, but DSEC researchers quickly deduced that it would not be difficult to terraform the cryosphere for human colonization.
- Daedalus II: Tau Ceti
Where Daedalus I was a bittersweet success, Daedalus II proved to be the posterchild for the Exploration Office. Taking just under 20 years to reach the system, Deadalus II discovered a planetary system not unlike that of the Solar System. Three outer gas Giants (the largest of which being roughly the size of Saturn), five terrestrial bodies in the interior, and one very Earthlike planet among them. The new world was initially cristened Oasis, however that changed immediately after a primative civilization was observed on the surface.
Surveyor probes made contact with the species and discovered that the most common name for the planet was, "Gomna." The inhabitants were at a bronze-age level of technology for the most part, and appeared to be semi-humanoid bipeds roughly 1 meter in height. Sporting orange skin, no teeth, just a hard lip line, and patches of feather-like fibers, scientists postulated that they had evolved from an avian-like species. Stranger still, when they finally encountered one of the probes, they approached it with almost no hostility, merely curiosity, going so far as to offer it food like a stray animal. After a few days of this, the human scientists elected to overide the directives of the onboard supercomputers and send a simple message to be relayed by the probe. Using superluminal communications (a very costly measure) Daedalus II was instructed to desipher the species' language, and relay as best it could the message, "We are humans. We come from the stars. We come in peace." Upon relaying the message the species began to argue amongst themselves apparently about how to respond, eventually resulting in an elder apparently stating that they were called, "Loha," and that they wished no harm on the rover.
Over the next several days an alter was constructed around the rover (it had been damaged and immobilized before making contact). Humanity soon found their robotic emissary being treated like an idol, and the people began asking it questions about its origins. After much debate among the managers of DSEC, former President Alder, the manage and architect of the program, ordered that one final message be sent to Daedalus II: the spacecraft would be tasked with answering any questions the Loha gave the rover. The decision was highly controversial, and many activists criticized the decision as interfering with the development of a sentient species.
- Daedalus III: Eta Cassiopeiae
- Daedalus IV: Epsilon Eridani
- Daedalus V: 40 Eridani