The Commander has essentially undemocratic authority, although we do witness a number of "Command Conferences" at which the heads of the major sections meet (Paul for Main Mission, Sandra for Service, Kano for Technical, Alan for Reconnaissance, Helena for Medical; security is not represented except in Guardian Of Piri) (Matter Of Life And Death, Black Sun, Earthbound, Guardian Of Piri -including a security guard-, Voyager's Return -without Sandra-, Collision Course, Space Brain, War Games, The Troubled Spirit).
Second in command is the Main Mission controller (Paul or Tony), although it may be delegated elsewhere (Koenig nominates Victor in The Full Circle; Helena assumes command in The A B Chrysalis, The Rules Of Luton & The Immunity Syndrome). Third in command (when the Commander and Main Mission controller are away) is more variable: Victor in Matter Of Life And Death, Kano in The Last Sunset and Mission Of The Darians, Alan in New Adam, New Eve and Space Warp.
Important command announcements are made by Koenig over all communications posts, usually prefaced by the phrase "Attention all sections Alpha. This is Commander John Koenig." (Breakaway, Black Sun, Another Time, Another Place, Alpha Child, Force Of Life, War Games). Koenig sometimes uses other forms of address: "Attention all Moonbase personnel" (The Seance Spectre), "All Alpha personnel" (The Taybor, Space Brain), "Attention all Alphans. This is the Commander speaking" (Seed Of Destruction) and "This is John Koenig" (The Dorcons). Paul also uses the phrase "all sections Alpha".
According to Black Sun there is a regular news broadcast, Alpha News Service, made over the communications posts. Koenig keeps a written log (The Testament Of Arkadia), while Helena files reports for the Medical Authority (Dragon's Domain).
In Year 2, Helena dictates a status report (all Year 2 apart from The Taybor and Journey To Where). Status reports begin: "Moonbase Alpha Status Report. 2310 days after leaving Earth orbit. Doctor Helena Russell recording." She also dictates some reports without a date as "Supplemental" (The Exiles, The Bringers Of Wonder part 1). See all dates
Force Of Life reveals that staff can be woken by a personal alarm call ("Calling technician Anton Zoref. Good day. This is your alarm call. Duty period commences in thirty minutes. Thank you.") They also have a 1970s clock radio by their bed. Work for at least some personnel is in shifts (The Infernal Machine, Force Of Life). Alpha does seem to have a night shift in which it runs at minimum activity. During these times Main Mission may be staffed by only two, both on standby rather than active duty (Space Brain, Dragon's Domain; see also Black Sun).
Collision courses are a common occurrence and a number of responses are witnessed. For smaller asteroids meteorite defence screens are adequate (Black Sun, Space Brain). Medium sized asteroids may be destroyed by nuclear charges (Collision Course). Planets and, apparently, stars may be avoided by antigravity screens (Space Brain), shockwaves (Space Brain, Collision Course), or deflecting the Moon as in the breakaway (Space Brain, Collision Course).
Space phenomena are usually investigated by an Eagle with one or two duty pilots (Black Sun, The Beta Cloud, Space Brain). For important missions, Koenig takes personal command (Catacombs Of The Moon, The Seance Spectre). The response to alien spacecraft varies according to the threat: the routine seems to be two Eagles each with a single pilot (Earthbound, Voyager's Return, The Exiles, Brian The Brain). Exploration of an alien craft may require a single Eagle with two or more crew (Earthbound, Mission Of The Darians, Dragon's Domain, The Exiles, Space Warp). A clear threat prompts flights of two, three or four armed Eagles, generally with a single pilot (Alpha Child, War Games, The Last Enemy, Voyager's Return, The Infernal Machine, The Dorcons). A more cautious response is a single Eagle (The Last Enemy, Ring Around The Moon). In imminent danger, Eagles are withdrawn to the underground hangars (The Last Enemy, The Dorcons).
Planetary investigation begins with a comprehensive aerial survey, although no landing is attempted. This is sometimes two Eagles (The Last Sunset) but generally a single two-man probe (Matter Of Life And Death, Guardian Of Piri, The Metamorph, The Seance Spectre). In critical/ time-restricted situations this stage is combined with the next, the initial landing and detailed ground analysis. Numbers on landing parties vary: 2 in War Games, Guardian Of Piri, Seed Of Destruction and Devil's Planet, 3 in Another Time, Another Place, The Rules Of Luton and The A B Chrysalis, 4 in Missing Link, Death's Other Dominion & The Last Sunset (lunar survey), 5 in Matter Of Life And Death and A Matter Of Balance, 6 in All That Glisters, 7 in The Full Circle, 8 in The Testament Of Arkadia.
The life signs of the pilots are monitored on TV screens in Main Mission or, occasionally, Medical.
If time allows, the survey team establishes a base camp on the planet (The Testament Of Arkadia, The Immunity Syndrome, with two Eagles). The usual landing party comprises the commander, science officer, chief pilot and chief medical officer, plus other specialists: a geologist in All That Glisters, a botanist in A Matter Of Balance, security guards in The Full Circle, Mission Of The Darians & The Testament Of Arkadia. Sometimes the first landing is not by these people, as in The Full Circle. If there is any cause for caution, the pilot remains in the Eagle during the surface exploration (Matter Of Life And Death, The Full Circle, Guardian Of Piri; see also Seed Of Destruction, The Rules Of Luton). A larger party may split into pairs during the exploration (Matter Of Life And Death, The Testament Of Arkadia), but regular communication must be maintained.
Commlock locator beams are used in Matter Of Life And Death & Death's Other Dominion, and radio markers in The Full Circle. Stun guns are routinely worn. In Matter Of Life And Death, tests for edible fruit had to be made via the Moonbase computer; by The Rules Of Luton hand held sensors were sufficient, but by The Immunity Syndrome a strict quarantine period was enforced. When the crew is lost in The Full Circle, a ground search party of 7 is sent in one Eagle while a second Eagle conducts an aerial search. In Devil's Planet, a single Eagle with just two crew is dispatched.
If the planet is judged suitable for colonisation, these stages are incorporated into Operation Exodus, the plan to evacuate Moonbase Alpha for a new planet. This is referred to in Breakaway (also called "contingency plan Exodus"), Matter Of Life And Death (also called "project Exodus"), Another Time, Another Place, Guardian Of Piri, War Games and The Testament Of Arkadia. In Matter Of Life And Death, Phase One is an aerial probe, Phase Two is a landing party, Phase Three is the total evacuation of Alpha. Phase Two should take 20 hours but is cut to 10; Phase Three will take a minimum of 48 hours. In Another Time, Another Place, a Phase One probe is the landing party, again taking 10 hours, but a total evacuation will now only take 24 hours. In The Testament Of Arkadia Phase One begins after the landing party returns. The evacuation is only completed in Another Time, Another Place (duplicate Alpha), Guardian Of Piri and War Games. Operation Exodus becomes the Evacuation Procedure in Year Two, used in Brian The Brain, The A B Chrysalis (a partial evacuation occurring in one and a half minutes) and The Seance Spectre (in the last it takes just five and a half hours). Operation Exodus is used in Message From Moonbase Alpha when the Alphans abandon the Moonbase for Terra Alpha.
Pilots are subject to medical examination after flights (a radiation check in Collision Course) and crashes (Breakaway). Although Koenig and Alan Carter have the highest crash rate, just two pilots are grounded in the series: Mike Baxter in End Of Eternity and Pete Garforth in The Seance Spectre.
Special codes used in specific circumstances include "Emergency Code Alpha One" (a high priority call to Earth used in Breakaway) and "Directive Four" (a coded instruction to destroy the place of origin of this message, used in The Metamorph). Blast procedure, seen in The A B Chrysalis and The Last Enemy, involves lying on the floor with hands over ears. "Red Alert" is a common condition, the words flashing in red on screens accompanied by a klaxon. This is first seen in Ring Around The Moon; in Matter Of Life And Death and Black Sun an "Emergency Red Alert" state is indicated by black & white letters on screens with the sound of alarm bells. An "Emergency Yellow Alert" is also seen in Matter Of Life And Death as the first phase of the emergency touch-down procedure; again this is accompanied by alarm bells rather than a klaxon. "Yellow Alert" is also seen in The Mark Of Archanon (screens display the text in yellow). Alarms can be triggered by using the commlock (Matter Of Life And Death) or wall "ALARM" buttons (The Exiles, The Mark Of Archanon, Space Warp).
Fires are a common risk. Handheld fire extinguishers are used in Collision Course and War Games while larger fires are dealt with by dedicated fire-fighters wearing protective suits in The Bringers Of Wonder part 1 and Space Warp. Larger fire extinguishers are commonly seen in corridors in Year 2. We see a corridor fire point in The Beta Cloud (identified as "23a") with a carbon dioxide hose which retracts into the wall ("Danger. High Pressure Carbondioxide"). The Eagles are equipped with fire extinguishers, as seen in Devil's Planet and Immunity Syndrome.
The "Emergency Procedure" labels (unreadable on screen) instruct to use the red button on side B of your commlock to open a panel; this reveals the handle to operate the escape hatchway apparatus. It also notes what compartments space suits are stored.
Copyright Martin Willey