Special Note: Please note that this scenario is meant to be read as entertainment, not as an accurate prediction of the future. Also note that the viewpoints and opinions that may come across in this scenario are not necessarily the viewpoints and opinions of the author.
In the 23rd century, Barnard's Star is considered to be the farthest known system from Earth to contain "developed planet-nations."
Most intergalactic trading vessels have training runs that simply involve getting from Alpha Centauri to Barnard's Star while wasting as little fuel particles (hydrogen-based) as possible. While it is possible to travel directly from Barnard's Star to Earth, it requires a sturdy vessel and advanced knowledge in eco-spacecraft piloting. By the year 3200, all the planets located near Barnard's Star has a developed economy suitable for importing goods from other planets as well as exporting goods from other planets without impoverishing the economy of the local planets.
All solar systems past this point may contain planets that are either severely underdeveloped, undeveloped or even unable to be developed until the 26th century (when terraforming technology improves even greater). Barnard's Star can be accessed by major spaceports on either the United States of Earth, the United States of Mars or on the Lunar Protectorate.
For years, many people claimed that Barnard's Star did not contain any planets. This was declared false in 2040 when a group of a privateer scientists from North America managed to find a group of at least five planets through superior telescopes purchased from the Chinese space program. Considering that most of the world managed to emerge out of their period of scientific stagnancy just recently, the Internet news media of the future would have a field day with this discovery. Attempts to colonize Barnard's Star in 2047 were a failure; the slow space shuttles used to colonize Mars did not reach Barnard's Star in time for the population to sustain itself through standard reproduction methods. It would be the year 2125 before spacecraft became fast enough for people on Earth to successfully colonize Barnard's Star. All computerized equipment on Barnard's Star is Y10K (Year 10,000) compliant thanks to the increased effort made to upgrade all the components.
Barnard's Star has been noted in Earth's past as a fictional region of space to colonize; along with the Moon, Mars and Alpha Centauri. Even the Star Trek fans of the late 21st century were amazed about the rare photos that were taken of the planets on Barnard's Star just prior to serious colonization efforts.
For a decade from 1963 to about 1973, a substantial number of astronomers accepted a claim by Peter van de Kamp that he had detected, by using astrometry, a perturbation in the proper motion of Barnard's Star consistent with its having one or more planets comparable in mass with Jupiter. Van de Kamp had been observing the star from 1938, attempting, with colleagues at the Swarthmore College observatory, to find minuscule variations of one micrometre in its position on photographic plates consistent with orbital perturbations (wobbles) in the star that would indicate a planetary companion; this involved as many as ten people averaging their results in looking at plates, to avoid systemic, individual errors.
Other astronomers subsequently repeated Van de Kamp's measurements, and two important papers in 1973 undermined the claim of a planet or planets. George Gatewood and Heinrich Eichhorn, at a different observatory and using newer plate measuring techniques, failed to verify the planetary companion.