Barnard's Star
Van de Kamp's world and asteroids
Image from Steve Bowers
Van de Kamp's world is a cool, dry superArean world, with moderate resources of water ice and frozen CO2. Also shown in this image are an assortment of asteroids from the Barnard Belt (not to scale)

Barnard's Star - System Data

StarBarnard's Star, 4LY from Earth (Epoch 10600AT)
ClassM4V, 0.144 solar masses, 0.0035 solar luminosity (bolometric)
Age10 billion years
Planetsvan de Kamp's World: ,SuperArean, 3.23 terrestrial masses, 0.404AU at 0.32 eccentricity (233 days)
Barnard Belt: 1 to 5AU, 1.7 terrestrial total masses in 3 bands
PopulationModosophont bionts: 133 million
'---' Spores: 27 billion
Small Transapient population
EmigrationThis system has low rates of immigration/emigration

Van de Kamp's world - Data Panel

Diameter18,090 km
Mass3.23 x Earth
Density6,242 kg / m3
Surface Gravity1.61 gees
Escape Velocity16,900m/s
Day Length31 hours
Surface Pressure(preterraformation) 0.4-bar nitrogen, 10% hydrogen
Volatiles7 percent water ice cover, 5% CO2 ice
Population27 million biont modosophonts, 11 million vecs, under 100 transapients
Major space portsNew New Syrtis
Major Orbitals1 bean stalk (Hosepipe) with large synchronous station
Barnard's Star is a small red dwarf close to Earth, first observed by hu astronomers in 80BT. The star was named after an astronomer of the era who recognized and measured its high velocity relative to Sol. Centuries later, that velocity made it attractive to potential colonists because the star was closing with Sol at over one hundred kilometers per second. In the following millennia, Barnard's Star has approached Sol as closely as 3.75 light-years, over two light-years closer than when it was discovered. In the current era, it is four light-years from Sol as it begins to recede.

The single planet in the system is a cold SuperArean world. It was named van de Kamp's World after Peter van de Kamp, an astronomer who in 5BT claimed to have found a planet orbiting the star. While Barnard's Star was later (49AT) found to have a SuperArean planet, van de Kamp's claims of one or two Jovian planets were debunked by 5AT when they were found to be instrumentation artifacts. Nearly Ikarian, van de Kamp's World has a high eccentricity (0.32) that causes sharp temperature swings over its 233-day orbit. The mostly-nitrogen atmosphere of the planet helps moderate temperatures to some extent, giving it an annual average of -140C, versus a vacuum equilibrium temperature of -170C. Carbon dioxide is present, but mostly as ice at the poles. Because of van de Kamp World's high escape velocity, it retains a sizable amount of hydrogen (10%), which locals sometimes use in combustion engines along with tanks of oxidizer.

Another defining feature of the system is the Barnard Belt, a relatively dense asteroid belt. Kirkwood Gaps caused by van de Kamp's World have separated the Belt into three bands stretching from 1 to 5AU from the star.

Barnard's Star was one of the first systems to be reached by refugee ships after the Great Expulsion, when the Skylark of Valeron arrived there in 761 AT.

During the early First Federation era more colonists arrived (mostly from Solsys), followed by a probe carrying .Packrat Spores who began to replicate in the outer asteroid belt, but mostly avoided contact with the Federation. The Siris Habitat generation ship arrived in 1001 AT, a relatively slow ship which had been launched shortly before the Technocalypse - but due to the lack of easily obtainable volatiles they did not remain long.

Barnard's Star became an important stepping-stone in interstellar colonisation but always suffered from a lack of volatiles. The adventures of the Kuiper-belt surveyors (the "comet-hunters") and the Water Wars remain classic stories.

As colonization expanded outwards the Barnard Belt became a backwater location, largely inhabited by anyone who could not afford to leave and find a better place. The volatile-related conflicts intensified, and in 1893AT a systemwide civil war broke out between various fractions. The war ended when a strong alliance between the Core Council and Henderson's Heroes (alliteration being a Barnard cultural custom at that time) succeeded in vanquishing the other fractions and impose a certain order on the system. Over time the alliance became known as the CCHH, and turned into a form of government dealing with peacekeeping, inter-habitat law and external relations. That Alliance, like many other polities in the system, faded away within a few centuries.

Through the millennia the Barnard cultures have diverged and mutated. It has never reached economic or cultural prominence, instead remaining one of the bohemian corners of the Inner Sphere, the ideal hiding place for shady activities and unwanted people. Barnard people are often fiercely proud of their spotty heritage and less than desirable home system. When the Negentropy Alliance attempted to "give relief" to the system during the Version War, the inhabitants rose up with a massive level of sabotage, passive resistance and open insurrection, forcing a withdrawal. The same thing occurred in 9581 when he representatives of the Terragen Federation-sponsored Inner Sphere Development Alliance attempted to do something similar.

On the other hand, Barnard has had problems with domestic polities and business activities. While no one appears to have used the system to build or harbor particularly dangerous technologies like transapient blights, the lack of a central authority has led to brief periods of de facto dictatorship. For example, the system was trapped in a set of sociopolitical contracts by the Waterbringers, Sunminers who monopolized volatile markets in the 7600-7825 period. This Sunminer House had started operations to compete with interstellar imports of water (via Barnard Bangers) and found their water, made from stellar hydrogen and asteroid oxygen, to be in high demand. In the centuries before interstellar shipments of water arrived, this control over vital volatiles was soon perverted into systemwide governance. This process was aided by groups hoarding the few other volatile reserves of Barnard's Star — the Kuiper Comet Shepherds and the inhabitants of van de Kamp's World. The system of control through water contracts abruptly collapsed when foreign imports undersold expensively sunmined hydrogen.

Van de Kamp's world and Sol
Image from Steve Bowers
By a cosmic coincidence, as seen from Barnard's Star, Solsys appears to be embedded in the galactic feature known as Barnard's Loop. In fact they are more than a thousand light years apart.
Today, Barnard's Star is as chaotic and decentralized as ever, though the experience with the Inner Sphere Development Alliance prompted the creation of the League of Legitimate Businessbeings. This trust and social valuation network scores the reputations of businesses and polities within the system, which has brought a level of transparency and dependability to entities operating around Barnard's Star.

The most powerful entities currently in the system are the Kuiper Comet Shepherds, Hot Beam Transportation Ltd., and The Dustbunnies. The Kuiper Comet Shepherds monopolize the cometary volatile resources of Barnard's Star in a decentralized system where signatories to the Shepherd Accord are only able to sell a certain share annually. The goal is create stable prices in a stable market without burning through the system's limited volatile reserves. While the Comet Shepherds are a specialist monopoly, Hot Beam Transportation is virtually a megacorp, a transportation monopoly owned by an S2 hyperturing. (The S2 hyperturing who answers to "New Resident" is based on a Barnards Belt A-brain, which e settled in 1173 AT and is sometimes suspected of having been the Moon Wars-era Aldrin City hyperturing.) Hot Beam Transportation operates the system's commgauge wormholes, "hot" beamrider links (hence the name), and provides numerous other transportation services ranging from rental bodies for interstellar tourists to Barnard Banger volatile imports. Hot Beam Transportation holds a decent if not spotless reputation for good customer service and moderate prices. The Dustbunnies is the republic governing van de Kamp's World, which has a diffuse population of high-G and Arean tweaks. The Dustbunnies mostly mediates between subpolities, which consists of assorted cities, nomadic tribes, nomadic cities, and other groups exploring a multitude of governments and lifestyles. However, The Dustbunnies do provide a coordinated planetary defense and regulation of off-planet trade, which means it has prevented van de Kamp World's nitrogen, water, and other volatiles from being stripped in large-scale resource extraction operations.
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Development Notes
Text by Anders Sandberg
Updated by Mike Miller 2019
Initially published on 12 August 2001.

Data panels + images added and significant article expansion, 2019