Space pirates are groups of people who use fleets of ships to engage in illegal activities. Three major things that pirate ships will do are: smuggling illegal goods, looting ships for profit or occasionally stealing the entire ship itself, and blockading colonies to prevent supplies from getting through. They are infamous for their smuggling inside and outside of the Solar System.
The idea of Space Pirates date back to at least the 20th century. But, it was not until 2061 AD that the first true pirate-like incident occurred. On board the Space Station Epsilon illegal narcotics were discovered. These were later tied to scientist George A. Sampilo. This was only the first indecent. Within 10 years of the first discovery 45 other cases of smuggling were reported one of which had to do with drugs being shipped to a colony of Mars. Although the arrested men could be considered Space Pirates, it would be many more years before the first "true" pirates would emerge.
At the dawn of the 22nd century the dream of owning a personal space ship was becoming a reality to the middle class for the first time in human history. The majority of the Solar System was colonized in a matter of years as eager pioneers headed outward great alacrity. This, as with all good things had a bad side; anyone could purchase or build a space ship and outfit it with makeshift weapons. It would only be a matter of time before the first space ship would be looted.The first ship to be looted was a small cargo ship named the Albina Suskay in 2116 by a fleet of ships, the first Space Pirate fleet known as the PhobianKings. Those in the gang remain a mystery, everyone managed to evade capture though they only ever pulled off 12 looting missions and around 20 smuggling jobs. The flagship of the PhobianKings was known as Newstar. It was custom built by an unknown ship builder and was created with built in weapons.
As the 22nd century went on more incidents of smuggling and looting occurred and many arrested were made, mostly the less surreptitious pirates. In 2257 the first blockade occurred. It was a blockade of the planetoid Orcus and lasted for 15 days. A radical group of Space Pirates furious at Orcus for it's proposal of a bill that would make punishments for pirating and smuggling goods more severe. In the end a fleet from Neptune came and defeated the pirate's fleet and the 56 pirates who surrendered were placed in court. Ironically due to this Orcus successfully passed their bill and 18 of the 56 pirates were sentenced to death. In total during the 22nd century there were 14 blockades done by pirates.
By the second half of the 22nd century narcotics were rarely smuggled as the amount of users of drugs fell dramatically due to new technologies. Instead these were replaced by precious gemstones, rare spices, and occasionally antimatter.
By the 23rd century large scale military fleets were common. This prevented any small Space Pirate fleet from blockading any world. Only smuggling and hit-and-run looting tactics were now applicable. But this did by no means mean that pirating was no longer a major issue. Cloaking technology used by governmental agencies fell into the eager hands of Space Pirates allowing themselves to be invisible to any conventional method of detection. Antimatter was frequently smuggled during this period.
By 2312 AD scientists working for the Cascade Federation created the first FTL drive named the Alpha Drive that could travel at 3.46c beating out the fastest antimatter drive that could travel up to 0.98c. Eventually the plans for the drive were leaked and Space Pirates began creating knockoff versions that could get speeds up to 3.18c for black market sale and for their own ships. By 2334 the Alpha Drive was available for the wealthy legally and selling Alpha Drives on the black market was no longer performed. As the Alpha Drive became increasingly popular nearly 50 star systems were colonized by 2400. This meant more worlds of the fringes on human space could be colonized allowing Space Pirates to set up colonies on distant asteroids and planets. The next step was inevitable, Space Pirate Nations.
During the 24th century space travel became increasingly popular and more and more nearby systems were settled. In fact 9 worlds with complex Earth-like life were colonized and dozens of others with primitive life. In fact one planet Galileo 4 was found to have intelligent life that was capable of creating fire and basic tools. With the vast distances between systems it became easy for Space Pirates to set up bases on remote worlds. With the commercialization of the Delta Drive (which could run at speeds up to 8.37c) space colonization sped up even faster. Even today there are believed to be hundreds of Space Pirate Nations scattered throughout human space some so influential that they can affect nearby governments.