The Orion Arm, also known as the Orion Region, is the name given to the extent of interstellar space currently inhabited by humanity. While the region covers an extremely vast distance, it represents only a small section of the Milky Way galaxy.
Within the Orion Arm there lie several thousand star systems, with millions of planets, moons, and all manner of asteroid belts, comets, and other celestial phenomena. Only a tiny fraction of these star systems contain habitable planets, with roughly three hundred systems currently inhabited by humans. Estimates see that number rising to over four hundred within the next fifty years.
"It depends, FTL travel relies on “cosmic strings”, naturally formed pathways of subatomic particles and such that spacecraft can manipulate to bend space around them. Not all strings are equal and the stronger the string, the faster you can go. It can take a great deal of effort to discover and chart these pathways so the fastest routes are generally in regions where the local governments or corporations have funded large scale surveying.
Travel within the Solar Sector and the Superpowers is pretty fast. You could probably get from Leningrad to Liberty within a couple weeks depending on the route you take. But the further away you are, the slower the strings and the longer it’s gonna take, irrespective of the actual distances involved. Getting from Union to Sanctuary in the Far Frontier could take months or even years.
Eventually stronger lanes will be discovered in these developing areas and development will speed up exponentially."
Is there FTL communications in this setting, like a sort of FTL radio or do messages and media have to be transported by ship, like in some other scifi settings, such as Traveller for example?
"Hm, there is a gap between French and Anglo-Canadian space"
"I know, lets call it the Channel!"