The Mars Shot Project was an ambitious space program initiated by the United States Space Administration to reach Mars, with a launch date scheduled for July 2078. The program involved vast contracts for civilian companies. One of its primary beneficiaries was ArcJet Systems, accepted in August 2075 as the contractor for the propulsion and communications systems. ArcJet did, in fact, start work on the XMB Booster before securing the contract.
This gamble paid off and allowed them to promise a delivery at least a year before the launch date. To accomplish this feat, the company siphoned Dr Rory McClellan away from his military contracting job, believing that with his aptitude with nuclear propulsion systems would leave them with time to spare. They were correct, managing to complete the first functional booster in December 2077, with just four months' delay and despite losing employees to the draft. At least two technicians, Rand and Janowski, were drafted into the military during their work on the XMB project.
The other project of the company involved the deep range transmitter, a highly advanced radio communications system designed to enable interplanetary communications. Although preliminary work was completed, culminating in the creation of a working unit, a scientist reassigned away from XMB fuel mixture work managed to boost its communications range by 70% inside three weeks, allowing the USSA's ship to ping a signal back and forth within ten minutes, while eventually managing to reduce the unit's size by half to match the target volume.