The pinnacle of humankind's achievements, our glorious silver and glass creations that brushed the fabric of the heavens and reached out to shape planets beyond our own...was so very nearly and irreversibly purged by nuclear fire.William Hubbard
The Green Revolution and World War III
As the world slowly recovered from the global recession of the early 2010s, several international authorities banded together to promote and encourage long-term environmental sustainability. As money was put towards it, the resource crisis diminished, and by the start of the 2020s prosperity had returned - the so-called "Green Revolution". As numerous third-world countries were developed, mankind turned its eye towards the stars once more, and in 2023 the first lunar colony was established. Science and technology was beginning to advance at unprecedented rates, and in 2027 the first manned mission to Mars arrived successfully. By 2029 the lunar base was fully-constructed, and multiple missions to Mars were sent and planned.
In 2033, already-strained tensions between the US and Iran leads to war. After a small series of skirmishes by the US, Russia sides with Iran, and a stalemate formed. Europe sided with America, and Iran was left almost alone by this point as the US and Russia focussed on each other. In 2036, miscalculation led to open conflict between the two superpowers in Chinese territorial waters, causing China to enter the war against Russia and the US, and World War III to begin proper. The war went through numerous periods of open conflict and subsequent stalemates until in 2040 it ended after a limited nuclear exchange. With their more advanced missile defence systems, Russia and the US sustained comparatively little damage; China was much more vulnerable, and suffered very heavy losses of civilian life and infrastructure.
The horrors of even a limited-scale nuclear war prompted a very quick signing of a peace treaty, and the United Nations pushed for more cohesive global unity to prevent such a tragedy happening again.
The United International Confederacy Space Agency
Following WWIII, rapidly depleting natural resources and environmental degradation caused by the eschewing of the measures put in place during the Green Revolution of the 2020s, led many international agencies to look at the possibilities of finding resources on the Moon, Mars, and asteroids. With the advances in space technology, it was considered feasible. In 2045, after a small political argument threatened to escalate into yet another war, the United Nations reformed itself as the United International Confederacy. The UIC aimed to provide a more solid political basis than the UN, and its member nations were bound by more stringent laws.
The 2050s saw numerous leaps in technology, first in space propulsion in 2052 rendering the continuation of the Mars missions of the late 2020s feasible once more, and then in rapid fabrication in 2053, allowing appropriate materials to be processed via a giant 3D printer into desired objects. 2053 was a very good year for science, as a small team working on it since before WWIII perfected cryonic sleep, allowing humans to remain in suspended animation for theoretically limitless periods of time without dying and, most importantly, revived safely.
Utilising this, the UIC began plans for an international effort to create the world's first extra-solar colony, and founded the United International Confederacy Space Agency (UICSA) in 2060. As the world slowly adapted to the huge advances in technology that science was offering, the UICSA completed one enormous project after another. The first orbital construction yard was finished in 2073, and the first Axiom-class colony ship, a massive vessel capable of housing more than 400,000 people in cryonic sleep, was completed in 2081.
Even with ultra-efficient rapid fabrication and the ability to suspend large portions of the population in cryonic sleep to ease resource consumption until solutions were found, the Earth's natural resources could not continue to support the population, and tensions escalated once more shortly after the first Axiom, the UICSA Colony Ship Horizon, was finished. The world's superpowers, all members of the UIC formally, were split between those who wanted to remain with the UIC, and those who felt the UICSA's immense projects were the cause of the crisis in the first place.
With the first of a number of planned fleets of 8 finished, on the 20th of July 2084, the Horizon was launched, with their target being a primeval Earth-like planet in a distant star system, nearly 200 years away (in terms of travel). The other Axioms were scheduled to be launched in the following days.