|Home Base||Spacefleet HQ & Guestton, Mars|
|Population (2015 rough)||probably below ten thousand|
|Major Achievements||Hard-tech spaceplane (Skylon), hard-tech sub-orbital plane|
|Stereotype||Nostalgic for 1950s Britain|
Created by Ace Dreamer.
Spacefleet is a Fenspace faction which is almost totally British in origin, though it does not reject people from other countries or cultures. Their aim is for humanity to get well-established across the Solar System, and then move onwards towards the stars, as friendly explorers, if possible righting-wrongs, and only resorting to violence if forced to; lethal violence being very much a last resort.
In 2008 the BIS and Reaction Engines both got so annoyed by the lack of progress in the UK that they moved to Mars. They establish Spacefleet HQ next to Guestton, named after the "Dan Dare" UK space organisation, and "Hubert Guest", first man (in Dan Dare) to land on both the Moon and Mars. Quite a lot of British Fen at least want to visit, and some moved there.
After some careful advertising many families of redundant British shipyard, and aerospace, workers moved to Guestton, and while some work locally, some seek employment at Utopia Planitia. Infrastructure and light industry quickly arrived, and by mid 2010 it's a place most people would be willing to live. Ex-British Steel workers and miners were also welcome. Schools and a college were quickly established, as was the (free) Martian Health Service (MHS).
When asked, one new Martian said, "It was either here or Australia, and Mars doesn't have *bleep* stupid immigration rules", as she patted her wife, who appeared to be a dog-girl. Rumours of a "biomod a bureaucrat on sight" policy are vigorously denied.
Note that the BIS announced that they were now the "British Interstellar Society" in Spring 2008. "Interplanetary" was solved, the next target was the stars.
They are referred to as "Eagles" because the first "Dan Dare" story was published in Issue #1 of the Eagle comic, in 1950. This is also why some believe they are nostalgic for the 1950s, though "Dan Dare" was set in the 1990s. Spacefleet really, really, hope that no one ever biomods themselves into The Mekon in the hope of becoming a super-scientist ruler.
Spacefleet share a considerable number of ideals with the Trekkies, and while you could describe both of them as techno-utopians it is arguable that they are less violent than the Trekkies (they only use non-lethal weapons, e.g. paralysis rays). They are really not fans of the Warsies, accusing them of being techno-dystopians, and fans of "grunge tech".
Food shortages were a major plot point in "Dan Dare", and Spacefleet if nothing else aims to ensure they both have a food surplus, and have rotating stores ready for food shortages. They emphasise the importance of human effort, and heroism, and while they don't distrust AIs the infrastructure of their society runs on expert systems and human hard work. As far as media is concerned, they are far more likely to use radio ('wireless') than television, and voice telephone rather than video phones.
Spacefleet is based almost exclusively on British culture. But it shouldn't be forgotten that the British are a mish-mash of many other people, including Picts, Scots, Gaels, Roman Italians, Norse, Norman French, and more recently after WW2, Polish, then Afro-Caribbean, Ugandan Asians, after European unity Eastern Europeans, and many others.
English as a language is a mix of many others, as the quote goes "We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and riffle their pockets for new vocabulary".
Accent is another issue, as Received Pronunciation is sometimes regarded as 'Standard English', and for many years was closely related to 'BBC English'. Spacefleet understands this, and uses it to their advantage, and there are reasonably popular classes in 'Standard English'.
There are also classes in 'Regional Accents', such as Yorkshire, Wigan, the accent of 'Digby' (Dan Dare's batman/sidekick), Scottish, maybe for those in engineering, and the ever popular 'Pirate Speak', among others. As radio is generally used rather than television, and voice-only telephones, accent (rather than physical appearance) is one of the things Spacefleet uses for cultural 'glue'.
No society is perfect, and sometimes people turn bad, maybe from some sort of pressure, when previously they've just about got by. The Eagles can refer to these peoples as 'bad eggs', and they can be the British equivalent of the Turnerites. They may have come to Mars because "foreigners were taking their jobs", or "English was becoming a minority language", or there were "too many non-white faces around". Those who admit that they may need help, get help, those who claim everyone else needs to change, but who otherwise are judged to be sane, are politely shown the door. The same applies to otherwise sane people who prove repeatedly too fond of anti-social violence.
The attitude to bureaucrats is a bit more ambiguous. Quite a few people believe that it was bureaucracy that drove them off Earth, but almost all will acknowledge that you need some sorts of management. Professional bureaucrats, who seem to enjoy manipulating the rules to upset others, and who don't have a wider moral and ethical stance of duty, are what really upset. "You're being bureaucratic" has become close to a deadly insult. The main thing is, bureaucrats are required to be accountable, and the way they carry out their jobs 'fit for purpose'.
Incidentally, the old-fashioned slang 'bad eggs' started as a sort of joke, but, it turned out to stick.
One of the founding forces behind Spacefleet is Reaction Engines, who grew out of the failed HOTOL project. By 2008 they had all the technology and most of the engineering finished for the replacement, Skylon, and were just seeking further funding. This used some clever helium pre-cooling of the air entering the engines, allowing a hard-tech round-trip to orbit with 15tns payload.
While they constructed a mock-up using handwavium, with almost identical functioning properties to the proposed hard-tech, the UK and EU bureaucrats weren't convinced, and wanted "further study". Possible pressure from the USA was one explanation.
Once on Mars handwavium-assisted production processes allowed them to finish the hard-tech version of the spaceplane, rapidly followed by its sub-orbital brother. They are waiting for reactions to things manufactured in Fenspace to become more reasonable, when they anticipate selling a large number of pure hard-tech planes capable of round trips from the ground to Earth orbit, purely on internal fuel, with no booster rockets. Followed by sales of a hyper-sonic passenger plane capable of Brussels-Sydney in 4.6hrs.
There is at least one Skylon prototype which has been waved so its oxy-hydrogen engine acts as a speed drive. This is one of the fastest vehicles in its size class in Fenspace, as it is basically two hyper-sonic rocket engines on a fuel tank moving around a 15tn payload.
Spacefleet are even more enthusiastic about hard-tech than the Minimalist Spacers and aim to have equipment that, where possible, is pure hard-tech, with handwavium only being used for emergency backup (in drives and life support, for example). People with personal Interwave devices (which can currently only be built using wave-tech) are expected to use them discretely. They are not fools, and are quite prepared to use mushy-tech, and will study how handwavium solves problems, but believe use of handwavium is a short-term 'crutch', and in the longer term must be replaced by hard-tech.
One example of their respect for hard-tech is that since mid 2009 they carefully monitor existing NASA equipment, from a safe distance so that they wont interfere with its operation. They record and analyse the signals it sends out, both for their records, and to quietly forward this with a six month delay to NASA, for 'archiving'. After April 2014, when the Artemis Foundation takes over from NASA, they slowly move over to dealing with them instead.
The Martian Broadcasting Corporation is a radio station run by fans of the British Broadcasting Corporation (the BBC). It is based, with permission, on the BBC World Service, combined with some locally produced material. There are ex-BBC staff working for MBC. Note that the Korean 'MBC' was consulted, and is happy about the use of the name, as there was considered little risk of confusion.
Among other reports is the 'Solar Weather Forecast', which covers flares, coronal mass ejections and any other changes to the Sun that look interesting. If nothing else this persuades many travellers in Fenspace to listen to the MBC, generally through the Interwave - if you've skimped on your radiation shielding, you'll need to take shelter. Information for this is gathered through monitoring of the NASA solar observatory (SOHO) and later SDO .
Showing some respect for the 21st Century the MBC has quite a good Interwave site, with live images of Sol, podcasts of MBC-sourced programs , and lively discussion forums . There is also a partial mirror of the BBC web site .
The MBC refuse to have any live web cams on presenters, except on rare special occasions, and do not host anything but the most exception video clips. In particular, they do not host news video clips. Those on the discussion forums are allowed to post (appropriate) links to video clips on other Interwave sites, as long as they don't do this to excess.
- see Hard Tech
- BBC ones with permission
- with strict moderators who seem to have the reaction speeds of AIs
- in particular without the video parts