Pirates in Space
The Columbians were the first to claim Antarctica, or at least to claim non-sovereignty. While the Americans were never able to beat them in court, they made a habit of firing a daily railgun barrage at their bunkers. The outrage the Colombians anticipated from the international community never came; apparently the public has no sympathy for drug dealers.
The first attempt to truly circumvent international law started with the pirate satellites, basically multiple-redundancy servers attached to a dish and a solar panel and fired into orbit. While a relatively cheap solution, the chief problem with the pirate satellite was that there was no way to perform maintenance. Entire systems were abandoned because of a stuck hard disk, or faulty RAM chip.
The next logical step was a space station. Man’s first space station was a Soviet Salyut, a can fired into space in a desperate attempt to regain ground in the space race; so of course its first crew couldn’t dock, and its second crew died horribly. By Salyut 7, the Soviets had learned enough to build Mir, meaning world or peace in Russian.
To cut the cost of building their pirate space station, they used the Freedom of Information Act to get a hold of Space Station Freedom’s blueprints, which had been extensively reused for the International Space Station. They also made use of derelict satellites for scrap.
They used surplus Soviet Proton rockets to launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Their launches were subsidized in part by advertising painted down the side of the rockets. After the Russians refused to pay the $115 million annual rent and began using their new station in Archangelsk, the Kazakh government was desperate for funds to pay back the $200 million they’d spent on renovations, so they got a discount on the launch.
From the beginning, their station was designed to orbit at 350 miles from the Earth, so the station would not require periodic orbital reboosting, saving on fuel costs, and cutting down on resupply necessities. Russian design specs for the Paron unmanned vehicle created a tug to pull Kliper containers from a low orbit of 200 miles to the dock with the station.
Manning the site would have been prohibitively expensive, but the third generation of Honda’s Asimo (which shouldn’t be confused with the baby-steps upgrade of Asimo 3.0, or the fact that Asimo was the third series after the experimental [E] and the human prototypes [P] respectively) had dexterity and intelligence, as well as a decent lifting capacity. The prototype was named Teach, and his station was the Concord.
There was international concern when the station was commissioned. There was a rush by nations to refuse to acknowledge its sovereignty, and fear that the station could be used as a weapons platform, or to house criminals. The owners created a new design for their interface, touting the phrase, “No people, no weapons, just freedom.”
The United States government accused the station operators of using Russian Almaz parts, and incorporating a 30 mm cannon. The station was immediately bombed, and all of its surviving parts coated in radiation. This unprovoked assault, the first act of aggressive human warfare off-planet, drew international condemnation, and an outpouring of donations as editorials were headlined “Remember Teach.”
Within a month, a replacement module was in orbit, piloted by Blackbeard. Well over 30% of the previous station was salvaged, including Teach's memory back-up. It was overwhelmingly decided that his memory be integrated into the processor of the station. Internet voting gave the station its name, Queen Anne’s Revenge; the name of Blackbeard's ship had narrowly edged out Stephen Colbert’s Balls, and By Chuck Norris’ Beard.
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