As the Imperial Terran economy and industry spooled up into something comparable to the rapid growth of the Old Federation during the early 4th millenium; the need for resources soon began to be felt. Most resource-rich worlds in the core of the Aquarius cluster had the 'low-hanging fruit' already picked clean - deposits of rare elements needed in exotic starship construction for example, mostly drilled out of the crust were drying up. To reach lower, sub-crust deposits, expensive and complex planetary mining projects required huge resources and development that slowed the progress of Imperial Expansion envisioned by the ATIS Council.
As such, new worlds were needed. Plans were drawn up for an expedition beyond the Tempest Ridge - G-East of Aquarius, as early as 4406, with co-operation with the officially allied Vuljcyon Conglomerate anticipated. The ATIS Council officially authorised a military-lead expedition through the Tempest Crossing in 4410. The crossing, named such as the great bounds of the Tempest Barrier Nebula funnel viable jump-space lanes to a cluster of stars in a straight of open space through the nebula.
The Tempest Crossing was already mapped and well known to Imperial Intelligence services and their federal predecessors; the straight of open space acting as a gateway into Aquarius to the dangerous and unmapped sectors of the Tempest Far Cluster. It was here that the Old Federation was preparing to make one final push towards the end of the Radacri Wars; the goal was to push the alien onslaught into the funnel and establish a strong defensive line using the Nebula fields for cover. However, the Federal Navy was decimated and forced to withdraw from Tempest entirely, before any such operation could be mounted. Fast forward to present times, and the Aquarian Imperial Navy is well aware of the strategic importance of the Tempest Crossing; so establishing a foothold in the Far Cluster would provide an important Imperial navy staging area, as well as opening up resourcing operations into the resource rich and largely untapped worlds of Tempest Far.
Officially a member of the VC-lead Six Trade Alliance, the ATIS Council petitioned the prospecting Conglomerate for assistance in the logistical aspect of such a major undertaking. In 4409, a deal was drawn up whereby the Conglomerate's Outer Trade Fleet would handle most of the logistics and supply side of the expedition, while the AIN Fleet provided security, recon and intelligence support. In exchange for co-operation (for an undertaking neither species could reliably handle alone) the resources acquired would be split evenly - an area of concern for the Vuljcyon, who originally requested 60%, and weren't too quick to take to trusting the new Imperial Government of the Aquarian humans, yet a deal was struck and by 4410; the expedition was well underway.
In light of the termination of the Joint Reclamation Treaty by ATIS in 4405, this would provide a fresh new beginning to 'friendly' co-operation between the two species.