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Of all the spectacular failures of the Imperium’s veritable army of researchers, the most spectacular was the EARL series of automated research spacecraft. Though there had been previous generations of unmanned probes right back to the dawn of humanity’s steps into space, the EARL’s were planned as a next generation craft, capable of decades, and even centuries of exploration, with vast arrays of onboard robots from nanobots to huge repair bots. The Cel-Tainu Astrophysical Research Corporation was given the contract to design and manufacture the EARL vessels.

The whole project was plagued by spiralling cost overruns, difficulties with cutting-edge technology and constant interference by Imperium officials. The first EARL prototype was substantially overbudget and years late, but performed reasonably well. Feeling some embarassment but still hoping for a useful product, the Imperium ordered a dozen of the vessels, and CARC eager to get rid of the project, subcontracted it out to the Zelther Rathian Group. This child corporation of CARC, run by the now-infamous physicist and engineer Welgan Tyrox, began manufacturing this fleet of AI-controlled, unmanned exploration vessels. Despite a working prototype, manufacturing produced more delays, more cost overruns and finally the Imperium, now deeply embarassed, cancelled the project with just five E Ar Ls built.

Not wanting to waste the vast amounts of resources entirely, CARC launched the five completed E Ar Ls, only to have a series of disasters ensue. The A Is, it turned out, were quite unstable. Two of the E Ar Ls apparently entered a psychotic state and self-destructed just weeks after launch. Two others went rogue, refused to follow instructions and had to be destroyed in a battle with Imperium forces that saw the losses of a number of ships. The final EARL actually behaved well for nearly five years before disappearing into what an Imperial inquiry guessed was a Hyperspace Vortice. The prototype was dismantled and put into storage where it was promptly lost due to what was simply described as an “inventory filing discrepancy” by Imperium bureucrats.

Despite the failures of the EARL project, many of the researchers and technicians went on to other, less ambitious but still impressive projects. The vast cost can now clearly be seen as contributing to the loss of power and prestige of the Emperors.

References

  1. Cel-Tainu Astrophysical Research Corporation
  2. Welgan Tyrox
  3. Zelther Rathian Group

Related Articles

  1. Zelther Rathian Group
  2. E Ar Ls
  3. Welgan Tyrox
  4. Imperium Edition Index
  5. A Is
  6. Cel-Tainu Astrophysical Research Corporation
  7. Carc
  8. Hyperspace Vortice

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