The year is 2093. UE government had just outlined the role of UESPA, Earth’s new military and logistical organization. While conventional (national) military budgets were redirected towards the UESPA sub-division MACO (Military Assault and Command Operations), a much greater interest was paid towards another part of UESPA: Almost 60% of the planetary budget were redirected to Starfleet. This branch of UESPA was the logistical and scientific backbone of UESPA operations. Starfleet’s primary mission was to reach out into space in order to expand the diplomatic contacts of humanity. In order to do so, Starfleet had to deliver a vessel that was capable of interstellar flight. Former experience in this area with vessels capable only of sub-light speeds had been failures (e.g. the S.S. Valiant). The next logical step was to develop a warp-capable exploration-vessel. In 2095, Starfleet Research & Development began plans for a warp 2 engine.
Up to this point, advances in warp engines had mainly been delivered by a bunch of private corporations, including the Yoyodyne Propulsion Systems Corporation. Together with the team of Zefram Cochrane, they had built a fleet of freighters and maintenance-vessels, utilizing the experiences made in the DY-program. Among those was the first mass-produced interstellar freighter, the Y-class. This vessel could achieve speeds up to warp 1.3 – twelve Y-class freighters had been constructed and sold to private haulage contractors by 2094. Two Y-class freighters (F.S. Future Star and F.S. Lunar Sunrise) were used to establish the first successful human settlement outside the solar system: the Alpha Centauri Colony was founded in 2097. But the Y-class freighters mainly delivered cargo to Alpha Centauri Colony and Denobulan traders within range. However, private cargo runs were everything but easy. In 2095, an Earth-freighter, the F.S. Uranus, ran into a couple of pirate ships (later believed to be Nausicaan) and was destroyed. Some of its debris was brought back by a Vulcan cruiser together with an admonition to remain within known space. As a result, the Earth Cargo Authority gave more powers to its sub-division, the Earth Cargo Service (ECS). From 2095 on, every freighter that went out of the Sol system had to have an ECS-license. Regulations also included new standards in means of defense and emergency procedures. Between 2093 and 2110, ECS vessels made a couple of first contacts with other species, including the Deltans, Teneebians, the Draylaxians and the Demerians. Regulating the cargo runs and making them more efficient also enabled large scale terraforming on Mars from 2103 on. 2105 marked the invention of another, very important technology: The first subspace transmitter was built in Baykonur on Earth. The Soyuz-Array and its counterpart on Utopia Planitia, the Energija-Subspace-Array enabled real-time communication between Earth and all of her colonies in the Sol-System.
Following the destruction of the Uranus in 2095, Starfleet quickened the pace of the warp 2 engine development program. Politicians believed that first contacts would be best made by official representatives of UE, rather than by freighter captains. In 2100, the prototype was successfully tested. Thus, the New DJ-class entered production in 2101 and the first vessel of the class, the S.S. Concordia DJ-1 saw its launch in 2110 (Again, private corporations had been quicker: the civilian version of the DJ-class engine entered service as soon as 2104 in form of the J-class freighter).
The S.S. Concordia featured a series of new technologies aside from its powerful engine. Utilizing a new generation of fusion reactors, the Concordia carried hibernation chambers, a further developed structural integrity field, the first transportable version of a subspace communications system, a probe launcher and a new generation of sensor equipment. She was designed to explore interstellar space surrounding the Sol System. Commanded by Captain Richard Chaplin, the Concordia took 26 persons on a 5 year mission to Vega, where the equipment was tested while surveying the system. En route, the Concordia deployed an experimental subspace radio beacon (Einstein II). The beacon was to be the prototype for a human communications network. The Concordia would send warp-capable communication probes to the subspace beacon that would then transmit the messages to Einstein I (that had been extensively modified and upgraded to receive subspace transmissions).
As the mission of the Concordia proofed to be a great success and revealed that Vega System would be suitable for colonization, Earth Cargo Authority organized a colonization-convoy, which reached Vega in 2118. (On a rather light hearted side: As Concordia was on her way back to Earth by then, the convoy and Concordia rendezvoused in space, marking the first meeting of humans in outer space).
While two additional vessels of the DJ class were constructed and brought into service until 2114 (The S.S. Vera Cruz DJ-02 and the S.S. Potemkin DJ-03), it became clear that the presently utilized superstructure of the DJ-class was too inflexible to have newer components installed into. As a result, Starfleet began to develop a new superstructure, no longer based on the DY-design. The N-Type-Development Project would look to Vulcan and Denobulan vessels as an example for a more flexible structural design. In 2109, a freighter of the ECS had brought back a new mining technology to Earth, having been bought from the Draylaxians. As the technology was implemented and tested on Orpheus mining colony on Luna, it proofed to be a good investment: Humanity was able to produce and purify enough duranium from the planetary core to construct vessel-frames. This new metal was used to construct the first NA-Class ship, the S.S. Achilles in 2115.
Serving as a test bed for the new superstructure and a couple of new concepts, such as the first shuttle pod-bay and micro-fusion-reactors, the Achilles remained the only ship of the class in service. However, it later would be reassigned to Vega colony and served as emergency response unit for nearby vessels in distress until 2149.
When Starfleet had tested the Achilles for nearly a year, they approached the Vulcan High Command for help with a new project: the warp 5 engine. As the Vulcans were reluctant to allow Humanity to get deeper into space, they would not be willing to give away technology. On the one hand, they feared that humans could be prepared to sell or simply give away the technology to potentially dangerous or militaristic species as seen with the friendship probes or the core-mining-technology. On the other hand, the Vulcan High Command assessed humans to be far too tampering and self-confident. Because they had a number of ongoing conflicts (especially with the Andorians) they did not want to bring Earth into contact with enemies of the Vulcans.
Nonetheless, the warp five complex was officially opened in 2119 and began research. Beside the warp coil assemblies and the need for a more balanced subspace field, another problem bothered the technicians among Dr. Cochrane: In order to create enough energy to power a warp five engine, a huge ship would be needed if Starfleet would continue to rely on fusion as their primary energy source. It was felt that a necessary step towards a warp five engine would be to investigate more efficient forms of energy-production. As the scientists knew that Vulcans utilized antimatter-matter reactors, some of their efforts focused on developing a suitable environment for the reaction. Anyway, it would not be until 2132 that a solution could be approached.
As technologies used on the Achilles seemed to be effective, the McKinley complex began constructing a new type of ship, the NC-class. This type of vessel, later to be nicknamed “bulky-queen” because of its enormous main structure, was put into service in 2125. The first vessel of the class, the S.S. Amiot, was named in honour of the first UE-president, Sophie Amiot. The Amiot and her six sister ships where equipped with extensively improved sensor pods and had a single goal: to keep up with the Earth Cargo Authority. Up to 2125, Earth’s only presence in outer space had been through human cargo vessels. Due to the limited range of warp 2 engines, Starfleet would not be able to bring advanced sensors and other needed equipment into unknown space without larger supplies. The NC-class provided just that possibility and the ships enabled Starfleet to extend their operations up to 40 light years around earth. They would be able to perform 5 year-research missions without having to come back to Earth for restocking.
When the S.S. Majestic NC-03 stopped to send telemetry via subspace relays in 2134, the S.S. Amiot was sent to investigate. She found the Majestic to be destroyed by an unknown force, close to Pollux. This lead to a cancellation of all deep space missions and a recall of all NC-class ships in order to be upgraded with a new weapons system, developed by MACO: The spatial torpedo could carry conventional explosives or a small nuclear warhead. On Earth, this caused much debate amongst the delegates of the parliament. While the more conservative factions tended to agree with Starfleet command’s decision that it would be necessary to be protected against hostile aliens, the liberal factions saw it as a step in the wrong direction. Additionally, the Vulcans officially protested against the armament, stating the weapons would be ineffective against most space-faring civilizations anyway. The Vulcan ambassador said, specifically the possibility of using nuclear warheads was a clear sign that humanity had not have learned enough from the last world war.
In the end, a compromise was agreed: While Starfleet was allowed to install spatial torpedoes, the usage of any further weaponry aboard UESPA vessels had to be allowed by a controlling body, made up of delegates from the UE parliament.
2136 saw another breakthrough in spaceship technology: While experimenting with forcefield-technology, Starfleet research and development discovered ways of efficiently isolating anti-matter. As the S.S. Sydney NC-02 had brought back a suitable material (dilithium) to maintain controlled matter-antimatter-reactions in 2132, the goal was now to develop a functioning matter-antimatter-reactor.