The Orion Arm

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The Orion Arm, also known as the Orion Region, Local Arm or Orion Spur, is the colloquial name given to the extent of human exploration and settlement across the galaxy. It derives its name from the Orion-Cygnus Arm of the Milky Way, though in most uses refers to only a small portion of the Arm itself and areas of adjacent space. Though increasingly a misnomer as colonies are established within the Arrowhead Spur or Antares Gulf, it is still the most widely used term to describe the expansion of human civilization across the galaxy.

The Orion Arm consists of several hundred star systems with tens of millions of planets, moons, and asteroids. Lifeforms discovered in the region have been generally young on the evolutionary scale with the most complex organisms and plants those transplanted from Earth. Only two alien species capable of interstellar flight have been discovered: the Scinfaxi and the Khorasmian’Sha. The latter of these races having lost its spacefaring capability for unknown reasons that are subject to debate within the scientific community.

For logistic and political purposes, the Orion Arm has been divided into a number of regions, sectors, and subsectors. Regions generally adhere to interstellar phenomena while sectors and subsectors are organized in a circular grid-like pattern. Currently there are three main sectors, each containing numerous regions and subsectors. The Solar Sector, Core Sector and Frontier Sector

Astrographic Overview

In astrographic terms, the “Orion Arm” represents only a minuscule portion of the Milky Way Galaxy or even the Orion Spiral Arm from which it derives its name. As such it is most often referred to as the “Orion Region” on navigational aids and within scholarly circles. With “Orion Spiral Arm” used exclusively to refer to the entire arm within the Milky Way.

To date, the extent of human explored space constitutes an area roughly 195 light years across by 400 light years wide on the coreward edge of the Orion Spiral Arm. It is bordered by two natural gaps, the coreward Antares Gap and the Orion Gulf which separates the Orion Region from the remainder of the rimward Orion Spiral Arm.

Numerous minor spurs and stellar clusters such as the Kagera, Arrowhead and Antares minor spurs line the periphery of the Orion Region.

Major Stellar Objects

  • Antares Gap
  • Antares Minor Spur
  • Arrowhead Spur
  • Kaegera Minor Spur
  • Orion Gulf
  • Vega Cloud

Minor Stellar Objects

  • Acadian Spur
  • Baade’s Spur
  • Chicago Cluster
  • Eschenbach Rift
  • Gagarin Nebula
  • Hammerhead Depths
  • Kiev Cluster
  • Leningrad Clusters
  • Lobachevsky Wall
  • Malyshev’s Rest
  • New Canaan Corridor
  • Pillars of Winters
  • Rusalka Expanse
  • Sea of Clouds
  • Shikotan Reach
  • Sinai Rift
  • Takehito Rim
  • The Channel
  • The Ginnungagap
  • The Marches
  • The Territories
  • Zacuto Verge

Societal Overview

See: Human Population

In recent history, the Orion Arm has been dominated by the expansion of humanity as it transformed from a strictly planet-bound civilization into an interstellar one. In the modern era, humanity is largely divided across three broad categories based on political and economic divisions; the superpowers, independents and frontier colonies.

Major Societal Categories

The Superpowers

See: Superpower

The superpowers generally refer to the Soviet Union, the Empire of Japan, the Greater German Reich and the Democratic Federation. As the most powerful nations of Earth and the leaders of the exodus movement, today the superpowers represent over 80% of the total human population as well as the vast majority of industrial, economic, military, and political power.

Independent

See: Regional Powers, Middle Powers, Planetary Nation States

The term “independent” originally arose to define nations and colonies that remained non-aligned to any major power from Earth. After the end of the Second Scinfaxi War and the expansion of various military and political alliances, the term now refers generally to any nation outside of the superpowers that have attained representation within the League of Nations.

Frontier Colonies

Frontier colonies represent some of the newest settlements in the Orion Arm and are typically in the early stages of development. Most often these colonies have limited self-government and are reliant either on colonial charters or corporate sponsorship. As such, they are not represented independently in the League of Nations.

History

See: Human History

Since the earliest civilizations of Earth, humanity has studied the Orion Arm through various forms of astronomy, one of the oldest natural sciences. Star systems and planets were discovered and categorized for millennia eventually culminating in a vast and coordinated effort to find habitable worlds in the 20th and 21st centuries.

The first true exploration of the Orion Arm began in 2024 when the development of faster than light travel led to the construction of thousands of automated probes and eventually fully manned starships and colony transports. The Colonization Era, as it was known, saw the establishment of the first extrasolar colonies on Alpha Centauri and the beginnings of interstellar society across the developing worlds of the superpowers and beyond. Numerous independent nations were also founded during this time, made possible by the rapidly decreasing cost of interstellar travel.

The Second Scinfaxi War saw the end of the Colonization Era, as the need to evacuate citizens off of Earth prioritized developing existing colonies establishing new ones. While new settlements and colonies were steadily founded following the war, the rapid expansion of the late 21st and early 22nd centuries had largely ended.

The Post Colonization Era was distinguished from most of human history in that humanity had spread across hundreds of planets while being entirely severed from Earth. Developing colonies and nations led to immense economic and technological changes to a degree unprecedented in human history. These included the development of widespread interstellar travel and communication, advancements in terraforming technologies, spacecraft development and the creation of the modern political landscape.

FTL Networks

Faster than light travel is accomplished primarily through the manipulation of various subatomic particles and exotic matter that over eons have gravitated towards stars and other bodies forming natural “tendrils” throughout space. These “cosmic strings,” as they are sometimes known, allow FTL drives to contract the space in front of a starship or other object while expanding it behind it, resulting in faster than light travel. A ship’s velocity is dependent upon the integrity of the cosmic string it is traveling within, combined with the efficiency of the drive itself.

These pathways are the only known method of faster than light travel and form the basis of interstellar society. While modern FTL drives are capable of propelling spacecraft across even the weakest cosmic strings, allowing for essentially limitless travel, the increased efficiency and speed afforded by more stable strings has seen the majority of spacecraft follow predictable routes throughout the Orion Arm.

The discovery and navigation of new cosmic strings remains a high priority across both civilian and military organizations, particularly across the Frontier Sector where very little surveying work has been done.

Administrative Divisions

Since the founding of the Alpha Centauri colonies and the expansion of civilization across the various star systems of the Orion Arm, several attempts have been made to divide human space into various sectors and subsectors. These sectors are generally identified by convention rather than any strict criteria and may vary considerably between academic and scholarly groups. The most commonly identified sectors are the Solar Sector, the Core Sector and the Frontier Sector.

The Solar Sector

The Core Sector

The Frontier Sector

Other

  • Solar Quarantine Zone
  • Khorasmian'Sha Exclusion Zone
  • The Edge Worlds