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Roberts Space Industries ®






November 9th 2022

Portfolio: Eras of IAE History
This portfolio originally appeared in Jump Point 9.11.

Somewhere on Castor, Corel system, sits a dusty and desolate plain ignored by all except for the most dedicated spacecraft enthusiast. A small plaque commemorates this site where, in 2670, Audrey Timmerman launched her experimental ship, named Poby, before a small crowd of fellow pilots, inventors, and aerospace enthusiasts. Though the test flight failed when a power surge fried several of Poby’s Xi’an-inspired maneuverable thrusters, this small event evolved over the centuries into the ultimate celebration of ships and the tech that make interstellar flight possible: the Intergalactic Aerospace Expo (IAE).

Yet, the event’s rich centuries-long history is an incredible journey itself. One that not only chronicles advancements in space travel but also reflects the social and political forces shaping the empire. Historian Ariel Rutte famously argued that, “The IAE is so much more than a ship showcase. It’s one of the best historical gauges for the state of the empire itself.” In celebration of the 2951 IAE, let’s look at some of the distinct eras in IAE history and the important and memorable moments that shaped them.

KITBASH (2670-2714)

Failed flight aside, Timmerman considered the first event a success and focused on making each subsequent one bigger and better. Standing among that first crowd was Steffon Dillard, whose New Junction Ship Emporium became the event’s first sponsor in 2675. To advertise the event and his dealership, Dillard acquired a version of every spacecraft made that year and exhibited them across a massive Castor plain in a way that was visually arresting on the ground and spelled IAE from above. Vids of the event saturated spectrum and popularized the use of IAE to refer to the event.

In 2683, when RSI signed on as an official sponsor, Timmerman and her dedicated team found that they had enough funding and clout to hold the event at the Agustin Exposition Hall on Lo. When local officials denied permits for a flyover of homemade spacecraft citing safety concerns, Timmerman moved the experimental flight show back to Castor and used RSI ships to ferry observers to and from it. This split event continued for years until a tragic experimental ship crash in 2701 killed both the pilot and fifteen observers. Legal repercussions and civil lawsuits from the accident nearly destroyed the event, so they decided to change their approach. Amateur pilots handling homemade builds were officially out, and stunt flying from the Navy’s elite “Wreckless” 999th Test Squadron was in.

RSI stuck by the IAE and remained the primary sponsor of the event for years, using its industrial clout to attract more sponsors and market the event as the most prestigious and important ship show in the ‘verse. In 2712, RSI used the IAE to push its latest ship, the Constellation. The expo generated massive interest in the ship and sales skyrocketed, which couldn’t have come at a better time for RSI with the loss of several military contracts to Aegis Dynamics. The Connie’s commercial success proved that the event could be a boon to a company’s bottom line. Yet industry observers weren’t the only ones to recognize the IAE’s growing influence.

AGE OF AEGIS (2715-2791)

Following the 2712 expo, the Messer regime looked to use the IAE’s popularity to push its agenda and began proposing ideas to its leadership, who placated them on smaller issues but ignored the majority of requests. Years earlier, in 2704, Timmerman had created a non-profit organization to oversee the IAE and ensure profits would go to charities once she was gone. She also hoped creating a board of directors would diffuse undue political and corporate influence. It helped until 2715, when Lo’s local government refused to permit the expo over fabricated safety concerns. When Timmerman and the IAE board met with local officials to discuss the issues, a Messer regime mediator also joined and made it abundantly clear what changes were expected for the event to be permitted. Timmerman refused to comply and officially retired from running the event instead of facing the promised repercussions to both herself and the expo.

For the next few decades, the IAE board was stocked with Messer loyalists who slowly bent the event to the regime’s will. The expo became more exclusive with most showfloor space reserved for ship and component companies in good standing with the regime. It was not unusual for smaller or out-of-favor manufacturers to have to pay significant bribes to board members before they would be allocated space. In 2725, the IAE began to make guests register for the event by filling out a lengthy form that included a loyalty oath to the empire that many activists and critics refused to sign. Though entry remained free, a ticketing system allowed event organizers to pick who could attend the expo and when, which drove interest in attending the event into a fever pitch among the populace.

Aegis Dynamics and its military ships dominated this era of the IAE. The regime’s favorite manufacturer became so prominent that some began to call the show the Intergalactic Aegis Expo. Memorable events of the era include 2736, when controversy erupted over the use of dogfight footage from the Vanduul front in a patriotic vid looped at the expo. The 2754 event became famous for doubling down on the exclusivity factor. It included a special showfloor that only select guests could access after a strict security check. Inside sat a top-secret military ship hidden beneath a giant tarp that only divulged its unique silhouette. Years later the ship was declassified and revealed to be the Aegis Vanguard.

The expo’s nationalistic bent remained until the fall of the regime in 2792. The resulting chaos of the uprising saw all IAE directors either get arrested or flee. Many wondered if, for the first time in the event’s history, the IAE would be cancelled. Thankfully, a coalition of ship and component manufacturers stepped in to fund the event and worked with local Lo officials to make it happen. This partnership saved the expo and set in motion its next phase.


The coalition that took over after the Messers were ousted decided to fill the IAE’s vacant board of directors by splitting the seats between local Lo officials and representatives from prominent ship manufactures. The ensuing decades saw a struggle for power eventually won by corporate interests who wanted the event to expand in more commercial directions. In 2847, the IAE left Lo to move between locations across the empire. The event brought huge profits and logistical headaches to whatever system hosted it. This era culminated in several systems hosting the event in 2870 to celebrate the IAE’s 200th anniversary.

Although the event was more popular than ever, critics claimed that the corporations controlling the IAE were favoring profits over innovation and neglecting experimental inventors and hobbyists during this era. Defenders of the IAE refuted the criticism by saying that Esperia, run by experimenting hobbyists, was launched into the stratosphere at the 2877 event when Victor Hurston flew a refurbished Vanduul Glaive. Other historians claim that the biggest problem of this era, besides the overly sanitized corporate environment, would be the local governments hosting the event. This sentiment culminated at the 2913 IAE in Asura, Ferron, when local organizers failed to build enough hangars and make necessary infrastructure improvements to accommodate the power standards specified in the IAE’s contract. This disastrous event showed the IAE board of directors the benefits of having a permanent home for the expo.


On the heels of the disastrous expo in Ferron, Governor Joona Tzur of Severus, Kiel system, approached the IAE board of directors and convinced them to make Eri City the event’s new permanent home. The former military system had plenty of hangars, solid infrastructure, and a desperate need for a new identity and economic engine. Eri City hosted its first expo in 2916 and has been its home ever since.

Having a new permanent location has not been without issues. In 2934, the Advocacy released a report detailing an alarming increase in outlaw activity targeting civilian and corporate transports going to and from the IAE. Meanwhile, IAE-related traffic into Kiel had gotten so bad that MISC famously had a half empty showfloor for part of the 2941 expo due to issues getting their transports into the system. This led to the creation of an express lane for IAE-related ships that grants preferential access to the jump gates into Kiel. A system that has been exploited enough to create back-ups in the express lane that has only further increased the wait time for others. To alleviate this issue, in 2948 the IAE began hosting smaller satellite expos in other systems so people could attend the event without worsening the situation in Kiel. While some have decried the satellite expos, IAE historians note it harkens back to earlier events split between Lo and Castor.

Though the modern IAE looks vastly different from the first events, the core spirit of camaraderie and enthusiasm over ships remains the same. The IAE provides a place to celebrate the evolution of ships and the tech that makes them possible while also embodying the current state of the empire. Making the IAE’s history a fascinating microcosm of UEE history.

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