Catacombs Moonbase Alpha Operational Guide


The Space Race began soon after World War 2, as both the United States of America and the Soviet Union sought to pursue rocketry research for strategic, propaganda and scientific reasons. The Russians won an early lead, launching of the first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, in 1957, and the first manned spaceflight, by Yuri Gargarin in Vostok 1, in 1961. The Americans set their target as a Moon landing, and achieved it in 1969, with the Apollo 11 mission. The Skylab space station from 1973 to 1974 consolidated the American lead, but then the US space effort entered a hiatus. The Soviets continued with their Saylut space station programme, crews staying in space for ever longer periods.

The first reusable space shuttle was flown by the US in 1979, but a launch disaster early in the programme damaged the credibility and operational effectiveness of the vehicle. The Soviet version, Burun, was also beset with early problems. Both nations were anxious to develop "Strategic Defence" space weaponry and concentrated on military programmes. However, the Soviet Mir space station was available to foreign research and astronauts, attracting Western nations and commercial interests. In 1984 the EC launched the Hermes shuttle and the first single-stage-to-orbit shuttle appeared from Japan, using Yasuda- enhanced rockets. Embarrassed by their own failures and the new competition, the Soviets and Americans invested in Yasuda- based shuttles, the Falcon and Hyperion, and various manned space stations were built, many with commercial and international involvement. But in 1985 the Voyager Two probe fired its Queller drive prematurely, killing two hundred and five people in six orbital stations. To restore public confidence in space, the EC and Japan led an international effort to build the Astro 1 planetary probe to fly past Mars, Jupiter and Uranus. Launched in 1986, it too met disaster when it disappeared near Uranus in late 1987. US and Soviet military space programmes continued apace.

Meanwhile the superpowers tried to increase their influence in the Middle East by encouraging unrest, terrorism and regional tensions. The superpowers over-extended both financially and militarily, leading to a military- political scandal that rocked the US, and the collapse of the Soviet regime. After the collapse, the regional and religious antagonisms, which had been fuelled by the competing superpowers, were no longer suppressed. Many nations had to cooperate to contain the jihad and quell the civil wars and international terrorism. Major disasters had already struck civilian nuclear power, and the contamination from plants hit by terrorist actions led to most nuclear power programmes being discontinued. In a new spirit of international cooperation, and in an urgent desire to dismantle and dispose of existing nuclear plants and radioactive wastes, the World Space Commission was founded in 1988, proposing a permanent Moonbase as its prestige project.

The demilitarised satellites and shuttles were used to construct the new international space effort. The key to these efforts were the Pegasus orbital platforms and the Centuri space dock at a Lagrange point between the Earth and the Moon. These served as research centres, factories, construction and launch platforms for spacecraft, and transfer stations for shuttles which ferried men and equipment to the Moon. Construction of Moonbase Alpha and these space stations began in 1989. By 1991 most raw materials used on the Moon and in space were of lunar origin, rather than expensively launched from Earth. The first Nuclear Disposal Area opened that year.

Space exploration was resumed with the Astro 2 1990 Mars mission which was to land the first men on Mars. In 1992 the large Astro probes to Mars and Venus were launched. The Astro motherships entered high orbits and with their Swift support craft established a series of subsidiary manned and unmanned orbital stations, and on Mars a small manned ground station. In 1993 two more Astro craft followed them with supplies and exchanged about half the original crew before returning to Earth. Smaller Sirius spacecraft supported these projects until 1995. The Astro 7, a smaller but equally ambitious mission to Jupiter was locked into a Jovian orbit and contact lost. The Eagle shuttles were phased in for Earth orbit to Moonbase flights beginning in 1992. Falcon shuttles were retained as ground to orbit ferries, though Eagles were used in this capacity for small cargoes.

External construction of Alpha was largely completed in 1994, as waste disposal operations switched to a second Nuclear Waste Disposal Area. International unity was then faltering and operations still controlled by single nations became shrouded in secrecy. In January 1996 the Astro 8 probe and its Swift support craft were launched almost unnoticed by the US. The mission was supposedly a ferry returning to the Mars stations, but it later emerged it with the first probe to use the Nova interplanetary drive, and may even have had an interstellar objective. It disappeared after launch and information on the whole mission was suppressed. More widely known were the Hawk combat space craft which were eventually used against terrorists. In March 1996 the Falcon 3 shuttle was hijacked by religious fundamentalists, who docked to Pegasus 2 and killed 96 people before the siege was over. In the shared revulsion tensions subsided and international unanimity was restored.

To declare faith in the rediscovered accord, a Sirius spacecraft was fitted with the Nova drive and launched to the newly discovered planet Ultra. The Ultra Probe failed in confused circumstances, with only one astronaut returning. Since then the Space Commission has concentrated on its successful commercial operations, particularly nuclear waste disposal, which had maintained it through the 1994-1996 tensions. The construction of the Meta Probe, due for launch in September 1999, signals a return to prestige space exploration projects. Plans exist for a new generation of space probes, the Superswifts, and a permanent Mars base, Delta.


On Monday, 13th September 1999 the Moon was blasted from Earth's orbit, an event since called the breakaway. The Moon has since hurtled through space, passing through many other solar systems and occasionally encountering alien life. The following is a brief resume of planets and other interstellar phenomena encountered to the present (August 2006).

Date (and days since breakaway):

© Martin Willey