The very first type of vessel to explore the outer systems were built by the collective efforts of governments working with contracted companies. Civilisation, the natural curiosity to discover what was beyond the reach of one system, demanded it. The vessels were crewed by volunteers from thousands who applied. They went to the closest exoplanets thought to be able to support life. The vessels were large and self-sufficient as there would be no rescue if they failed, most would not even have the luxury of a post mortem.
The vessels had some personnel to help with the flight, There were also dozens of robots, mountains of food rations, atmosphere processors and materials to start construction. On landing the colony vessels would become the vast initial foundries that would spur further production. Engine rooms and support systems designed to be turned into foundries and fabrication plants. All of the windows, plexiglass and reflective surfaces could be utilised as greenhouse or solar arrays. Nothing would be wasted. All materials were bolted together so they could be taken apart with sufficient ease.
Many of the early colony vessels made it successfully to the worlds they intended to conquer. The vast majority of those that landed were able to establish colonies. Radio signals took decades to travel back to Sol. The first expansion took close to a century during which technology leapt onwards.
Fewer than half of those first colonies survived a decade. The failure rate in the end was higher than all hoped. But that didn’t stop humanity. A second generation replaced the first even before the initial signals had returned to Terra. This wave of vessels were smaller and contained more robotic assistance, they also contained the first birthing tanks. The earliest colonies spoke of the birth defects and high mortality rates pre- and post-natal. In order for mankind to survive adaptation to local conditions was necessary from virtually the point of conception.
A new breed of humanity would be created, suited to their new worlds. There would be, from this point onwards more than one homeworld for humanity. Terran was now simply a subset of humanity. With this change in perspective eventually came the change in terminology. Human seemed too biased to Earth, it spoke only of Terran humans. So the generalised term people was adopted as a casual universal norm.
The second wave of colonies were far more successful;. The closest exoplanet was a mere thirteen light years away. It was an icy world of Teergarden C, renamed as Boreas after the Greek Goddess of Snow. The world was reachable by the fastest vessels in fewer than twenty-five years as they accelerated to over half light speed. The system was a gift from the heavens, rich in radioactive and heavy elements. Soon mining colonies were established and major corporations started to increase their spread by building new corporate entities in distant systems. The corporate race to colonise and capitalise on space began and Colonization Futures started to dominate stock markets.
This was the third wave of colonization and the largest. This was the Expansion when thousands of ships raced out of the Sol system into the beyond. Many of these vessels were trimmed down industrial behemoths filled with the hardest people that could be employed. They would face death out in the furthest reaches, but their families on Terra and the nearby colonies would have lives of wealth. They sold their lives for a share in the future potential wealth of the Expansion.