Sketches – Sol 1: Icarus Station

Icarus Station in Geosynchronous Orbit

Built by CERN as a replacement for the Lunar Supercollider (itself a replacement for the venerable Future Circular Collider), orbits in a geosynchronous orbit of Mercury. When it was initially assembled in the early years of the Terran Commonwealth the Solar Supercollider represents the single largest investment in high-energy particle physics in human history, and one of the first in a series of orbital mega projects that soon became the hallmark of the Commonwealth’s reach. And a monument to how far humanity had fallen since.

Originally built to simulate the underlying structure of reality immediately after the Big Bang (or at least several orders of magnitude closer than its predecessors), Icarus Station’s very location was contentious. Many physicists were initially concerned about increased high-energy particle density thanks to its proximity to Sol, but the sheer power demands for the accelerator virtually mandated a near-Sol position. The higher neutron and gamma radiation levels potentially threatened to swamp the sensitive detector systems that were part of the collision test sites, and the decision to build Icarus Station was only given the go-ahead with the creation of advanced radiation shielding (the precursors to modern shield systems).

Over the decades following its initial construction, Icarus Station also became a hub for solar research, as its proximity to Sol made for an easy platform to add on additional research capacity and accommodations.

As the Collapse War shifted into high gear, Icarus Station itself shifted in purpose. While scientific research continued, additional funding was allocated to more practical high-energy matters. Increased funding and laboratory space was devoted to shielding and armor development, as the accelerator allowed for precise testing against a broad range of energy weapons. But that was only part of Icarus Station’s work. In the latter half of the collapse war, the EU began work on a plan to weaponize the use of antimatter as a munition. Icarus Station’s massive particle accelerator was the key to the plan, as it could ‘manufacture’ enough antimatter in a short enough time to make it theoretically viable. By the end of the war, two tests had been conducted on the Mercurian surface, but it was also clear that the technology was just too primitive to be effectively weaponized. Any such weapon would need to be installed on a freighter, with the whole ship as the delivery mechanism.

In the wake of the Collapse War, Icarus Station shifted back to its scientific roots, but with substantially less funding as resources were redirected to rebuilt from damage during the war. As the years rolled by, systems and technology was slowly stripped out of the station to maintain other systems, but the sheer complexity (and age) of the components worked against most salvaging attempts.

When the Terran Dominion reformed out of the long-cooled ashes of the Collapse War, restoring Icarus Station was high on the list of things to do. It was a symbol of what humanity had once aspired towards, and what the Dominion wished to return to. No matter the cost.

It’s long been a desire to talk a bit about what’s been going on in Human space. What kind of future did we end up having, and what has survived out there in the cold black? I’m glad that I get to do a few bits and pieces here and there… and perhaps leave people wondering what else is out there in the black, waiting to finally get written up…

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