The Earthian Expedition franchise is a space opera saga based on the bestselling novel series of the same name by sci-fi author Timothy Zahn, who has also written similar books that are part of the Star Wars Universe. Zahn is writing the screenplay for the films, which are being directed by the legendary Steven Spielberg and distributed by 20th Century FOX.
Spielberg and 20th Century FOX have a contract with Zahn and his publishers at Bantam Books to make the movies based on all the books part of the series.
The films focus on humanity's exploration of space in the near future (early 2000s), landing on/claiming all the other planets and eventually reaching the North Star and Alpha Centauri A. They also discover a large, kind, spacefaring nation-species, the Myt'lan, who help humanity progress even further and are working together to reach another galaxy (the Andromeda Galaxy) in the current year in the books.
NASA Engineer Zachery Lincoln (Harrison Ford) is the principal character, having initiated America's Ares program. His arch-rival from the USSR is Mikhail Nikolai Vladimirovich (Arnold Schwarzenegger), who pushed Russia into space. Lincoln and Vladimirovich were both born in 1964 and grew up with interests in space exploration, astronomy, and eventually Star Wars, as seen in flashbacks, thus setting the scene for the books and films.
Earthian Expedition (1989)
The first film starts with the birth of Lincoln (played by the newborn baby of one of the crew members) in New York City and the birth of Vladimirovich (played by the same baby) in a Moscow hospital in the Soviet Union. The scene then cuts to Lincoln at age five in 1969, watching a the Apollo 11 moon landing on TV. He then tells himself that he will either be the first person on Mars or the first person to send someone to Mars. Vladimirovich does the same at his family home in Leningrad.
Twenty-eight years later (modern day, 1997), a now-thirty-three year-old Lincoln (Harrison Ford) is at a high-level NASA budget meeting, proposing the Ares program. Next he goes to Washington to get funding for the project, and once NASA approves, the program kicks into full gear. Vladimirovich (Arnold Schwarzenegger) subsequently makes the same proposal in Moscow, where it is accepted to challenge America.
In 2003, Lincoln sees the Ares I being launched at Cape Canaveral, headed towards Mars. Vladimirovich watches in shock. Two months later, the Soviets launch their its much faster Alexei I. The Mars Race has begun. In November of 2004, President George W. Bush (was only known as the son of H.W. Bush) (Chuck Norris) is re-elected.
That December, the Ares I lands, and Hank Ford (Bruce Willis) is the first man on Mars. With the mission a complete success, the President congratulates Lincoln for proposing that America go to Mars.
Lingering Landings (1990)
The efforts of Lincoln and Vladimirovich boosted people into space, with the USA reaching the other inner planets, the asteroid belt, and the moons of Mars. There are bases on the Moon, Mars, and several asteroids and space stations. However, the USSR has accomplished the same feats.
Britain, France, Germany, and a now-reunited, supposedly democratic China are now following these two greats in space travel. Several other nations are starting space programs as well.
The year is 2015. Lincoln and Vladimirovich have served their respective space agencies for nearly twenty years. Now they make the same bold proposal: to start going outwards into the Solar System, even though it will take many years.
Both nation agree. America and Russia get ready for the next destinations: Europa of Jupiter, Titan of Saturn, and Triton of Neptune. These will take many years to get to.
However, a stroke of luck comes when a strange ship falls out of the sky and lands in Russia and Alaska at the same time (in this universe, America bought Alaska from Russia in 1867), due to its sheer size, bridging the Bering Strait. The nations of the world are soon cowering in fear of aliens about to attack Earth, but no such sign is given: the ship is a derelict.
A war is about to erupt between the USA and Russia over who will get the ship until Lincoln's colleague, Jesse Brady (Tom Cruise), negotiates a deal between the two countries. (He later receives the Nobel Peace Prize for this.)
Later examinations of the ship by America and Russia conclude that it has the power of go to the other planets with ease. The President (Kevin Costner) assigns Lincoln the duty of commandeering the reverse engineered version of the ship, named Reach I.
Russia's reverse-engineered version of the ship is also prepared, with Vladimirovich in control.
On Christmas 2015, Lincoln (Fleet Admiral of the Ship), Brady (Admiral), and several others board ship and prepare to exit the inner planetary range. Millions of people watch the launch on TV.
During the flyby of Mars in 2016, a technician (Christopher Lloyd) asks Lincoln if there really are Martians on Mars. Lincoln ponders, and says: "Just maybe."
The scene then cuts to 2020, years later, when Lincoln is back on Earth and the six major space faring nations (America, Russia, Britain, France, Germany, and China) have colonies, mining towns, cities, and outposts on other planets and celestial bodies.
America has full control over Deimos, one half of Mars, half of the moon, and twelve asteroids. Russia owns one quarter of Mars, Phobos, the other half of the moon, and fourteen asteroids.
Britain and France each have their own quarters of Mars, and a space station each, and outposts on Mercury.
China has a great deal of areas on Mercury and two space stations, although the cities are sparsely populated.
The film ends with the captain of an American ship (Michael J. Fox) being killed by a Chinese spy while examining an American copper mining town.
Race for Rights (1991)
Race for Rights starts immediately after the end of the previous film. Lincoln and a Chinese official (Bruce Lee) are examining what happened to the American captain and why he was murdered. A war is about to begin as tensions between Britain and Russia are about to boil over, concerning a border dispute on Mars. Lincoln is trying to settle this and many other disputes throughout the system, meanwhile working on an engine and ship capable of finally traveling to another star system.
The Chinese government decides to end the joint investigation with the United States and Xin Wuku (Bruce Lee) is recalled for a special mission in China. Meanwhile, tensions between Russia and Britain begin to cool off as they find a common enemy in the German bloc.
On top of the global situation, the American and Russian mining towns on the far side of Mars are being raided by the opposite nation's mercenaries. Lincoln and Vladimirovich are both deployed to handle the situation, but they are both arrested by Peacekeeping Forces and are jailed in international territory.
Shackled by the same bonds, Lincoln and Vladimirovich discover that the so-called "international territory", which, proposed by the Chinese in the United Nations (an alternate version of the League of Nations), is really the headquarters of a massive plot devised by the Chinese to slowly take over local space. Several powerful opponents are captured and forced into the prison to work for the Chinese. The two are locked in with Xin Wuku, who disobeyed his orders to initiate the takeover of America's Mars territory. Together, the three, as well as the British Peter Hawking, stage a jailbreak after being held captive for a week. The film ends with the group escaping and Chinese forces in pursuit.
Voyager II (1993)
Trying Tides (1994)
Flooded Banks (1995)
Receding Rage (1996)
Far Out (1997)
Note: Date for release is currently unknown