Magellan Program

The Magellan Program was an ambitious Western Alliance scientific project to send unmanned probe ships to nearby star systems. These ships then dropped survey probes onto worlds that might be suitable for human habitation.[1][2]


Western Alliance scientists reported to the Alliance World Parliament in 2028 regarding the possibility of sending fusion powered exploration probes to nearby star systems. While some debate occurred in the Parliament, it was ultimately decided to approve this daring experiment.

The main plan was to send eight fusion powered vehicles, each equipped with several survey probes that would be dropped onto prospective interstellar worlds. These probes would then relay their observations back to the main vehicle and that would, in turn, be relayed back to Earth.

The scientific community moved quickly and within a year of the Parliamentary approval (2029) the first interstellar probe ship was completed and christened Magellan One. While the design of the probe ships were new, they were still based on the fusion drives that made the AS Columbia mission to Mars so successful.

Magellan One was launched from Crippen Station in 2030 bound for Tau Ceti. Over the next five years, seven more probes were constructed at the Challenger construction facility orbiting the Earths moon.

The Magellan Program was a resounding success with three probe ships finding and reporting on habitable worlds. Despite the excitement generated by these discoveries, the Alliance Parliament did not authorize further exploration due to high cost and political pressure from the poorer nations of the Western Alliance.

Interstellar space exploration languished until the start of the 22nd century.

An interesting footnote to the Magellan Program was the TAS Pathfinder discovering one of Magellan One's survey drones on the surface of Tau Ceti IV in 2108.[1]


The Magellan probes were similar in design to the AS Columbia except almost twice the size. These large ships contained four remote controlled excursion vehicles each reporting back to the master control system on the main ship. Each vehicle was designed to take the rough punishment of landing on a planet and were protected by the large shields on the main ship for space travel as well.

General Motors fusion engines were used to deliver the two G acceleration out of the Sol system for a period of months until just under half the total stored fuel was spent. Lying dormant for many years the Magellan probes would awaken at their preset time and start deceleration until in the heart of the target system.

The probe would then deploy their excursion vehicle to the surface of the planets, relaying data back to the Magellan probe itself which in turn relayed the information back to Alliance scientists on Earth. Because of the large interstellar distance, those reports took dozens of years to return.[1]


Magellan One[edit]

Discovered Tau Ceti system roughly 24 years after launch from Crippen Station in 2030[1]

TAS Pathfinder finds Magellan One probe in 2108 on surface of Tau Ceti IV[1]

Magellan Two[edit]

No discoveries reported[1]

Magellan Three[edit]

No discoveries reported[1]

Magellan Four[edit]

Discovered Epsilon Eridani[1]

Magellan Five[edit]

Discovered Epsilon Indi[1]

Magellan Six[edit]

Failed to decelerate and was lost[1]

Magellan Seven[edit]

No discoveries reported[1]

Magellan Eight[edit]

No discoveries reported[1]


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 'DropShips and JumpShips, pp. 8-9
  2. House Davion (The Federated Suns), p. 7