The human race has begun to move into space, with viable colonies established on Mars and elsewhere. The situation on Earth remains volatile, but the immediate battle against the forces of collectivism has been won in Europe, spearheaded by a triumvirate of powerful women now running Spain, France, and Germany. But that is unstable as further conflict is almost inevitable as the very foundational concept of freedom, that a single individual has intrinsic worth, remains under constant threat.
The Prometheus Group, who spearheaded the thrust into space, feels increasingly under pressure from corrupt collectivist forces, who seem to be again seizing political power worldwide, especially in the US. The disastrous consequences of the twentieth century notwithstanding, by camouflaging and ignoring history, they appear destined to repeat the terrible mistakes of the past.
The situation is further complicated by A.I. as numerous jobs at the lower skill end of the market, such as driving vehicles, has been taken over by robots. The absence of meaningful work is leading increasingly to an aimless, pointless existence, so drugs, alcohol and suicide are increasing problems worldwide.
With this disaster looming on Earth, there is a division coming between Earth and the Spacers, who are increasingly not only psychologically but increasingly physically different from Earthlings. How wide that gap will become in the future remains unclear. A.I. has not yet reached the stage where a physical body can be dispensed with, but that is at least now conceivable.
The universe remains a chancy place. One of the colonies, opening up on Ganymede, is hit by a meteor, and survival became doubtful. A rescue mission, likely to be a one way trip, is launched. The world waits to see the outcome of what naysayers have been predicting for a very long time.