The Known Universe is a constantly expanding region of space-time bounded by mankind’s ability for exploration. Until the beginning of the first millennium CE (Common Era), the Known Universe for Europeans was the continental masses of Africa and Eurasia. By the twentieth century the Known Universe was entire Earth. In 1969 CE the United States Space Program added the Moon to the Known Universe. By the end of the twenty-first century, Mars, Jupiter’s moons and the larger asteroids had been added. It was not until the early twenty-third century that the new age of exploration gained enough momentum to expand the Known Universe beyond the Home System of Sol.
From the perspective distance of sixteen millennia, these first adventures were tentative, and limited by the propulsion systems then available. The development of an efficient, economical anti-hydrogen production plants, and effective containment field for the matter-antimatter reaction - developed in the late twenty-second century - fueled the first of these halting steps. A series of intelligent interstellar probes that employed the anti-matter drive were launched from the Faisal Towers in the early twenty-fourth century. The turn of the new century saw data returned from these probes which expanded the Known Universe to a sphere two parsecs (7.2 LY) in diameter. In the mid- twenty-fifth century the bubble of the Known Universe had expanded to eight parsecs (25.6 LY), and mankind received confirmation that other planets existed that were habitable without lengthy terraforming. Manned “slowboats” – interstellar spacecraft power by enormous “light sails” that relied on solar wind and focused laser energy - were launched beginning in the late twenty-fourth century to survey and map the systems identified by the robot interstellar probes.
The most important technological discovery that accelerated the expansion of the Known Universe occurred in 2431 CE when a team funded by ExMShell achieved the first sustained faster-than-light (FTL) transport. The robot experimental vehicle (XV-4) traveled the distance from Mercury’s Third Lagrange Point (L3) (see – Lagrange Point) to a lunar high orbit in 0.36 secs. Although it took another 110 standard years to perfect the development for safe human travel, by the end of the third millennium CE the Known Universe had expanded to encompass the width of the Orion Arm of the Milky Way.
The Adepts of the Enochiian School offered mankind the breakthrough necessary to make limitless the potential expansion of the Known Universe. Their ability to control the vector of a slip drive field made possible the first folding of space-time. By the close of the fourth millennium CE, the Known Universe had expanded to encompass most of the Milky Way and a portion of the globular clusters surrounding it. Exploration teams with Enochiian-trained pilots broke free of the bonds of the Milky Way in 4124 with the charting of the route to the Lesser Magellanic Cloud. Within another twenty-two centuries, mankind was standing on planets orbiting stars in Andromeda, M33, and most of the Local Group. At this writing, (35489 CE) the bubble of the Known Universe extends from the Milky Way to the center of the Virgo Supercluster – a radius of 50 million LY.