United States Lunar TerritoriesTimeline: The Second Renaissance
"E Pluribus Unum."
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Luna, often referred to as the Moon, is the only natural satellite of Earth. Although not the largest natural satellite in the Solar System, it is, among the satellites of major planets, the largest relative to the size of the object it orbits. Home to millions of species, including humans, the Moon is the first object beyond Earth to support human civilization after colonization began in the 2020s.
The moon was the first world beyond Earth that humans explored during the First Space Age of the 1960s and 70s. For half a century, no human and only and handful of probes ever traveled to the moon. During the Space Boom, the US government sponsored a number of private operators to begin developing the moon and Near-Earth-Asteroids to service the growing US military presence in space, and counter Russian attempts to develop space resources. After several unmanned landings in the mid 2010s, the first human settlement was established in 2018 at the Sea of Tranquility. These primitive settlements were small, self-contained ecosystems large enough for two people to live and work for a few months at a time on the surface. These first settlers were employees of the first mining operations in space, and were primarily tasked with setting up habitats for future workers and extracting valuable resources to service other spacecraft. With the development of the first prototype fusion reactor on Earth in 2019, the demand for lunar extracted Helium-3 boomed, fueling military backed projects on the Moon. By 2021 there were over a dozen settlements established across the lunar surface, the largest of which were at Tycho crater and the Sea of Tranquility.
Helium-3 rapidly eclipsed all other industries on the moon by 2023 when the Navy began using fusion reactors on their larger warships and the first fusion propelled space tug entered service. In the span of just a few months over 20,000 civilian contractors flooded to the moon to build and maintain the facilities required to provide the Helium-3 earth so demanded. These contractors resulted in the construction of the moon's first true cities, constructed underground beneath the layers of reinforced steel and utility lines that provided protection from the dangerous environment of hard space. 2023 was also the year of the founding of the Mars Corporation, of which many Lunar based companies were a part of, but none larger than Lunar Energy Ltd. Originally a start-up founded in the Mojave, LE had grown to become the largest supplier of Helium-3 and Hydrogen on the moon. Lunar Helium-3 and Hydrogen fueled the next generation of Mars colonial ships, launched not from Earth, but in orbit and propelled by Helium-3 fusion engines. The mining and export of Rare-Earth-Elements on the moon, eventually eclipsed that of Earth by 2024, as the lack of any natural biosphere made the otherwise toxic manufacturing process more appealing on the lunar surface.
As the US military had nearly completed the implementation of its Third Offset policy by the end of the Little Cold War, the Lunar economy enjoyed the wealth provided from the sale of Helium-3 to the US military and civilian sectors by the end of the 2020s. The end of the decade also brought with it the first military presence on the moon in the form of the Tycho shipyards. The US military financed the construction of spacecraft construction facilities at Tycho as early as 2025, knowing that the southern crater's large supply of water ice and obscured locations would make it ideal for covert construction of military hardware that could be launched without detection. Initially these relatively small subterranean shipyards were used to launch the first orbital bombardment satellites and anti-satellite platforms to Earth. With these success of these first programs, the US military went forward with its most ambitious project of the 2030s, the ASGARD project. Starting in 2028, the Tycho shipyards began construction of three Orbital Command Stations to provide C2 networkign with unmanned spy satellites, refueling and repair facilities and orbital bombardment stations. No longer relying on vulnerable land based command centers, the United States could project its power with minimum effort and superb accuracy. All three stations were completed and Launched in 2031, reaching Earth orbit, and revealed to the public after a year of shakedown tests, having never been detected in that time.
Primary command and control moved to the Orbital Command Stations to limit the number of failure points, with space based systems seeming invulnerable to smaller powers. OCS Eisenhower was stationed over Uganda, OCS Kennedy over Papua New Guinea, and the main command station, OCS Reagan was stationed over Ecuador. Commanding fleets of hypersonic unmanned aircraft and coordinating Naval support around the planet, the Orbital Command Stations could impose devastating blockades against US adversaries, and coordinate rapid response strikes in a matter of minutes. Project ASGARD brought with it a formal US military presence and eventually a Japanese response at their terminator bases.