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The World of The Expanse


It would be impossible to encapsulate the immense world that James S.A Corey (author of "The Expanse" book series) created in just one blog post, but that doesn't mean that we aren't going to give it a go! Besides, now that we have an arsenal of sweet new trailers, a prequel, and an amazing virtual reality app we thought it would only be polite to give you the rundown on this ambitious space epic arriving December 14. So what is The Expanse?

The Expanse takes place hundreds of years in the future where mankind has colonized the solar system. Thanks to the ingenious engine drive invented by Solomon Epstein, a man living on Mars, we've established settlements on the Moon, Mars, the asteroid belt, and Jupiter. Yet, as far as we've progressed, the stars are still out of our reach.

For humans it's business as usual: the endless struggle for scarce resources continues. Tribalism. Rasicm. Bloodshed. Earth and Mars, now the two superpowers, face off in a cold war, while the underclass of Belters (those born on the asteroid belt) grow increasingly tired of being exploited by the inner planets. An all out war threatens to erupt at any moment - Earth vs Mars vs The Belters.

For a more in-depth first look watch these two trailers: 

The Expanse: Season 1 Trailer

The Expanse: What's It About?

Great! So now you've got a pretty good idea of what's in store come this December, but how did mankind get to this point? Well, it all started with the Martian named Solomon Epstein. Martian, as in human man living on Mars. Solomon created the technology that humans have used to achieve interplanetary travel, and in doing so averted a nearly civilization-destroying war between Mars and Earth. For his backstory, check out The Expanse prequel, Drive, below.


Got it? So here is the current layout of The Expanse universe, and by universe we mean solar system, as it exists today (and by today we mean at the beginning of The Expanse).

Stations and Plants


Governed by the United Nations, Earth is enormously overcrowded, but remains a positive place. What is lacks in technology it makes up for in sheer numbers



Our moon has long been colonized, and is governed under Earth's unified body, the UN. It's basically an extension of Earth.



The Governing body is the Martian Congressional Republic (MCR). The planet has a relatively small population, but far surpasses both Earth and the Belt in terms of wealth and technology



A non-belt asteroid whose orbit crosses between Mars/Earth and Mars/Jupiter space. It was the first Belter mining operation to be established but has since exhausted its resources and become repurposed as a city with little value to policy makers in the inner planets.



The Belt's port city. Most of the wealth flows through their docks, but not much of it sticks around. Ceres is a hotbed of political unrest.



The most stable city in the Belt; it is the source of food production for the Belt and the place most Belters go for advanced medical and prenatal care.

Tycho Station

The Belt's crown jewel. A privately owned mobile space platform used to construct mobile space stations and large ships.

Anderson Station

A minor and remote shipping depot servicing the farthes flung reaches of civilization




Miller - and really, he just goes by his last name - is a hardened, world-weary detective. His work in the Asteroid Belt has shown him the worst sides of humanity. His new job, tracking down a missing girl, will change his life or end it.

Jim Holden


Originally from Montana, Jim Holden has taken a position on the ice hauler, The Canterbury after getting kicked out of Earth's Navy. He lives to avoid responsibility, because once he's taken on a cause, he can't stop until he sees it through.

Chrisjen Avasarala


The Deputy Undersecretary for the United Nations, Chrisjen Avasarala is a master of politics who achieved her position without a single vote cast in her name. She's an unstoppable behind-the-scenes operator who will do whatever it takes to protect Earth ... regardless of the consequences.

Naomi Nagata


Naomi Nagata is a Belter (someone born and raised in the Asteroid Belt) who grew up on prospecting ships crewed by her people. Entirely self-taught, she knows every inch of every ship she works on. She's the best engineer on the Canterbury, and she never talks about her past.

Alex Kamal

A veteran Navy pilot born on Mars, Alex Kamal is a restless soul who only feels at home aboard a ship. Beneath his good ol' boy attitude is a true professional whose skill and wisdom continually save the crew from dangerous and seemingly impossible situations.


Amos Burton

Originally from Earth, Amos Burton is now a ship's mechanic and Naomi Nagata's right-hand man. He's calm by nature, even when he's beating someone down. He's a force of nature, a survivor, and not the kind of man you want to cross.

Julie Mao

The rebellious oldest daughter of Jules-Pierre Mao and heir to one of the most powerful corporations in the solar system, she knows the secrets of Earth and the Belt. And she's missing (she's the girl Miller is trying to find).

Words and Things and Factoids to Know

Anderson Station: This is minor distribution station for water and air in the belt.
Beltsider: Another term for belters
Currencies: In the future, legit currency is all digitized. Illicit transactions are done with casino chips.
Communications Lag:  Due to distance, communication from Earth to the Moon takes eight seconds. It's even longer when dealing with larger distances, like the Belt to Earth, etc.
Comms Array: The physical system located outside the ship that allows for communication.
Crash Couch: Gel-padded chair used for safety in high g’s. Essentially, when a ship travels at high speeds (thanks to the Epstein Drive, the whole thing that allowed for travel out to the belt) it's really rough on the passengers. The crash couch helps facilitate the journey.
Cinnamon Stick: Recreational drug. It's calming.
Data Cube: The flash drive of the future.
Dirtsider: Earthlings, Martians. Someone raised on a planet.
Earth-Mars Coalition Navy: Alliance between Earth and Mars following Mars' independence.
Epstein Drive: Tech breakthrough that allows for travel to the far reaches of the Belt.
EVA Suit: Extra Vehicular Activity suit. Worn in a vacuum. Pressurized suit etc.
Flip and Burn: This is a tactic where ships accelerate (creating gravity) and then cut engines halfway to destination, flip the ship and decelerate (creating gravity)
Hand Terminal: A ubiquitous personal computer, largely voice activated.
HUD: Heads Up Display: Display screen in spacesuit helmet.
Lozenge (Focus Drug): Creates hyper focus. Replaces the lie detector test.
MCRN: Martian Congressional Republic Navy. Mars has the most advanced fleet in the soalr system.
Salvage Mech: A repair machine that holds one operator.
Star Helix Security: Earth based private security firm that employs Miller.
Stealthships: Ships that have energy absorbing skins to hide from radar and ladar. Mars is the only military known to posses the tech.

That's all for now, but check back in with The Expanse site between now and December 14 for more tasty nuggets of information and updates to our VR app. We seriously can't wait for you to see this ambitious space epic and we're not the only ones: io9 thinks that The Expanse is the Show We’ve Been Wanting Since Battlestar Galactica. We couldn't agree more.