Alternative History

Aetherilae Joviorum, or non-military satellites, are man-made orbital constructs that serve as infrastructure for whomever launched them. Military satellites are outside this classification. Aetheriliae may perform such tasks as relaying communications, broadcasting telescreen programs, observing the earth and extending logistical control of a country's possessions into orbit.

There are only three countries with the technology to launch satellites into orbit: Maya Conglomerate; Roman Empire and Japanese Shogunate. Formed of these states, the Alliance of Earth is the primary organization for the regulation of space travel. Its unchallenged hegemony of the aetherial plane sustains longstanding efforts of the Alliance in keeping non-member countries from starting their own space programs.

The history of aetherilae begins with the humanity's first launch of an artificial object in 1935, followed two years later by the first artificial orbiting body - a man-made satellite. These milestons are owned by the Conglomerate. Their Tepeu-series was designed to study the upper atmosphere and probe the firmament between air and the vacuum. Despite many successes, the Maya were soon overtaken by Rome in the space race through the latter's unmatched applications of robotic and propulsion technology.

Aetherilae Exquaesitiorum[]

The first objects sent into space by humans were research satellites. After the Tepeu, they proved capable of analyzing the risks of future endeavors into space and forming a better understanding of our planet. The Tepeu II, in 1937, even took a historic picture of the Earth in its entirety, the Bilia Caerulea (blue marble) photo. This is generally ranked among humanity's most significant achievements, giving it its first objective view of its home and marking a milestone in space exploration. But times have changed. Today, satellites can photograph every sq ft of the planet's surface in minutes; detailed maps of the Earth have long been available across every portion of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Although observation satellites are useful for military and civilian purposes, scientists prefer telescopic ones for analyzing structures in deep space. Osiris, launched in October 1943, is outfitted to search the visible spectrum. The first space telescope, it marked the beginning of the Propositia Vates (Project Seer) a Roman project with the goal of launching low-Earth orbiting telescopes equipped to observe all wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum from radio waves to gamma rays. By 1954, the project was complete. Other satellites in the project were launched on: 1948 (infrared), 1949 (x-ray or radiographema), 1951 (ultraviolet or radioeli / radio waves) and 1954 (gamma rays or alpha rays). Each one is still in use for scientific research.

The Conglomerate abandoned its own space telescope program after launching visible and x-ray telescopes while the Japanese only launched infrared and visible spectrum instruments before resorting to borrowing data from Roman telescopes. This reflects Japan's ideology in areas of space exploration and other research areas in general. Nothing is worth pursuing unless a practical, or rather commercial, benefit is likely. Japan's intense adherance to its priorities led to the launch of the world's first metereological satellite in 1946.

The field of metereology was quickly taken over by Rome whose advanced instruments and computers played no small part in dominating the market of these satellites. Launching their first metereological satellite in 1951, they gained complete coverage of Earth by 1960 and could accurately predict weather months ahead of time.

The three innovative series of aetherilae exquaesitiorum are the Tepeu, designed for atmospheric analysis; the Apollo, making up the Apollo Network of military spy satellites; and the Fujin, designed to analyze a wide range of atmospheric and surface conditions for making weather predictions. All these satellites are models for their type of research satellite, copied by their competitors.

Aetherilae Epistularum[]

Communication satellites weren't even an idea until the efficiency of cross-atmospheric transmission was confirmed by the first space launches. Rome sent the C-1 telecommunications relay into geostationary orbit in 1938 to mediate communication between Melita and Carthage, carrying government and military messages. It's success initiated a formation of a global communication network owned by the Imperium.

Telecommunications in the 1930's comprised long-distance fiber-optic cables, connecting the colonies to the imperial provinces. Late 1939, after a secure line through C-1 was shown as feasible, the designs for the Telaoria Network put into practice. This efficient telecommunications system would provide global coverage in high-frequency bandwidths to handle all satellite communications for the Empire. The 100th launch marked the completion of the Telaoria network, putting Rome in a powerful position in the Space Race.

The outdated systems began to be replaced in 1960, by an effort to field 440 new telecommunication relays by 1964. The mission met with success months in advance of the target date. Today, over 1,289 satellites mediate Roman communications around the globe - four times any other country.

For the Empire's safety, Rome limited Maya communication satellites to certain lines of longitude, ranging from coast to coast of continental Columbia. Japan is similarly limited along longitudinal lines in Asia. Their first telecom satellites were launched in 1945 and 1946 respectively, establishing full coverage by 1955 and 1959.

Today, a high-volume of telephone, television, radio and internet is broadcast by satellites. With the right equipment, a signal can be picked up by modest equipment anywhere in the world; allowing long-distance communication in unusual locales and emergency contact at any time.

Custos Angeles[]

With an increasing amount of orbital infrastructure, Rome needed a means of maintaining things outside Earth's atmosphere. The original solution to this problem was launched the 1943 launch of a Custos Angelis satellite. Twelve were launched within the decade to assist in constructing the Castra Astra. Two hundred custos angeles were being built as part of an advacement program of the Roman space agency for the late 1950's. These newer models had more powerful ion engines, allowing them to move freely within Earth's orbit, and were powered by nuclear batteries charged with photovoltaic panels. Five robotic arms could be used in executing complex repairs and repositions when servicing other satellites. Standard procedure was to match the speed of the target to facilitate whatever operations were underway.

By the 70's, so many custodes angeles had been launched that Rome's flexibility in space matched its logistic capabilities on the ground. Satellites were decommissioned for recycling with ease and repairs were as routine as any performed on a ship at sea. But the greatest upgrade for the network was yet to come.

In 1985, Caesar Raphael enacted a complete reformation of the custos angelis program. All angelis satellites six years or older were decommissioned and a new fleet of two hundred custodes angeles drones were launched over several years. While older models had freedom of motion in terrestrial orbit, the new ones could move freely in and out of Earth's gravity well, travel to the Moon and escape for interplanetary travel if necessary. The latter manoeuver was facilitated to the point of trivial simplicity when the custodes were outfitted in 1989 with uplinks that made them compatible with the Midas network.

Over four hundred custodes angeles serve the Collegium Caelum Romanum (Roman Space Agency) today. Hardly resembling their original models, the modern custos angelis is an automated spaceship outfitted with an AI capable of rudimentary problem solving and programmed to resolve common difficulties in outer space when it performs its repairs or assists. An angelis is a welcome sight for a Roman traveler when his vessel has broken down in the middle of the asteroid belt between Earth and Mars. Their programming allows them to automatically respond to distress calls then follow basic instructions which are fully enumerated in a manual all ships carry.