The Starmoth Initiative
"Space dissolves everything. Empires, nations, allegiances, routes, maps. In the expanses of the void, it seems that our destiny is to be mere wanderers, as opposed to the pioneers and colonists of the past."
"As above, so below."
--Motto of the Starmoth Initiative.
As soon as humankind started expanding in the Milky Way thanks to the geometry drive, one thing was made very clear: the future would belong to explorers. The legacy of the Low Age was one of scientific and spiritual curiosity which had birthed many an institution, society or even cult dedicated to exploration, discovery and study.
In the first decades of the interstellar age, space exploration was enthusiastic but messy. Unregistered ships bounced from planet to planet, landing and taking samples of alien life without much regard for contamination risks. Swarms of Von Neuman probes surged through uncharted systems without warning nor coordination. Long-range exploration missions gathered mountains of data that would never be correctly classified, published or sorted. The knowledge accumulated in private databanks, layers upon layers upon layers that failed at creating a shared repository of space knowledge. Sometimes, even, exploration ships stumbled upon less than amicable things.
The Starmoth Initiative was born in Communal Space as an attempt to solve this problem by coordinating human exploration efforts. The Initiative is a cooperative organisation financed by a mixture of government subsidies and communal donations. Its primary mission is to provide an organized framework for human exploration by creating and enforcing standards for data collection, data sharing, ship rating and exploration protocols. Its secondary mission is to maintain an independent exploration fleet operating at the edges of human space. The two activities are intertwined: the Initiative's field experience provides invaluable feedback to the administrative and procedural side of things.
In the eyes of the Starmoth Initiative exploration is valuable in and of itself, both as a means to further humankind's understanding of the universe and to create a sense of community on the fringes of civilisation. Though the Initiative will happily lend its data and feedback to localized colonization endeavours or private exploration parties, at its heart it is about creating a safe, regulated space for explorers. The Starmoth Initiative operates relay stations in the void, edits guidelines for space travel and maintains (at a great cost) a deep space mail service. The organisation also funds deep space research, having among other things pioneered the Butterfly Engine, a long-range version of the Geometry Drive.
The Starmoth Initiative doesn't only watch explorers from the guidelines. Its active branch has specialized itself in leading long-range deep space exploration endeavours such as the famous Laniakea Run. If a deep space traveller was to stumble upon a lone beacon lost in deep space, there are good odds that it was set up by the Initiative as a reminder of its passage. The twenty-five Inyanga-class ships of the Starmoth Initiative have thus been the spearhead of many an attempt at crossing the uncharted void between galactic arms and will continue doing so for as long as the organisation exists.
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