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As decades passed, the people of Earth gingerly began to dip their toes in to the deep end of the galaxy. Space exploration, initially privately funded and later subsidized by the UNE, became more a means for population control than pure scientific interest. A great period of explosive expansion was brought about by the discovery and synthesis of element 274 - an element scientists sarcastically coined Handwavium.

Handwavium was so named due to its incredible attributes when introduced to oscillating electric/magnetic fields - for instance the tendency to generate a field of faster-than-light Tachyon particles when exposed to 10^20Hz oscillations. This is probably the most useful aspect of the material, since exposing Handwavium to an unshielded nuclear reactor can produce a "bubble" of tachyons which, for reasons unbeknownst to Earth's scientists, seems to void the cosmic speed limit of 3.00x10^8m/s for anything within the bubble. Some have theorized that the tachyons somehow disrupt the Higgs mass field, but they're too afraid to test anything in case they break the serendipitous design.

The possibility of faster than light travel obviously opened up a lot of doors for the people of earth - especially since the mass of the system within the generated bubble seems to have little to no effect on attainable speeds. Essentially, anything inside the bubble goes as fast as the bubble with the same amount of energy put into the bubble.