Founding Faction: Unknown. Most likely outside of known space.
Interests: Interstellar communications & travel.
The Spacer Collective first became known in 3627 PT, when their small starships were detected by Ascendancy naval patrols in the Grus Sector. Initially considered to be a invading force, the Collective's ships and orbital stations began to appear with increasing frequency over the following century. Any attempts to contact their mysterious vessels were greeted by silence, and their assets would simply vanish if approached. Paranoia concerning the activities of the Collective was increasing within every power in Known Space until 3735 PT, when the Clearance Organisation broadcast a communiqué on their behalf. The message established that the Spacer Collective (as they called themselves) were a peaceful power, with no interest in planetary conquest or even maintaining planetary holdings. They offered their services to all the Factions in the form of near-instantaneous communications for worlds with a Spacer presence, for which they would charge a small fee.
Until this offer from the Spacers, all communications between star systems had to be brought directly by warp-capable starships. The Factions and other MegaCorps instantly leapt at the opportunity to use this service to vastly speed up communication between worlds, and hostilities against Collective assets stopped almost immediately. The services offered by the Spacers has caused a vast increase in trade and an array of other benefits, both civilian and military. The Clearance Organisation and Spacer Collective quickly announced a joint venture, whereby CO Clearing Houses would use Spacer services to rapidly disseminate information regarding contracts and jobs across their entire network, providing a huge benefit to the troubleshooter crews who worked closely with CO.
Since then, the Spacers have become heavily integrated with life in the Orion Sphere. Their stations and ships can be found orbiting many key worlds, and their employees have begun to set up more traditional MegaCorp facilities on some planets. Very little is known about the Collective itself, however, and the contents of their ships and stations remains completely unknown to the majority. Collective ships never allow visitors, and communicate using text or audio transmissions only, so even the appearance and nature of the Spacers themselves is a mystery. While it is clear that they are sentient from their transmissions, and somewhat profiteering in behaviour and demeanour, any other details about them are hidden within their ship and station hulls.
Shortly before the communiqué, Free Union scientists were working out how to identify individual Spacer vessels, and managed to trace the appearances of Collective vessels over time. It was theorised that the Collective possessed a method of FTL travel far superior to standard warp drives - surpassing its highest theoretical limits. Subsequent analysis of scans obtained of Spacer ships when they vanish seems to suggest that they are capable of generating stable wormholes, large enough to transport entire starships and orbital facilities. This is believed to be the source of their FTL communication technology also, as micro-wormholes could be used to transmit information over vast distances using more conventional means.
Spacer Collective ships use what has been dubbed a “Jump Drive” to generate larger wormholes and move themselves. Analysis of Spacer starships as they “Jump” suggests that the wormhole is generated from within the ship, and spreads outward to surround it. The spacers use a protective energy field that holds the ship together and prevents it traversing the wormhole until the wormhole grows to encompass the ship and energy field, at which point the entire starship “falls through” the wormhole and comes out the other side. Each jump therefore requires a short time for the wormhole to grow to a sufficient size before the ship is transported. Longer-distance jumps also seem to require a significant amount of time to process with whatever unknown navigation systems Collective ships use.
Since they first became known to the Factions, some Collective ships have been destroyed, either by Faction naval vessels prior to their communication, or by pirates, accidents or hazards. While these incidents have been recorded, no useful information or analysis of their technology has been forthcoming. It is known that the Spacers are willing to pay handsomely to have the remains of their destroyed assets returned to them unmolested.