Catacombs Moonbase Alpha Operational Guide


Collision Course

Moonbase Alpha is constructed in the crater Malapert near the lunar south pole. The location was chosen for several features. It is on the near side of the Moon, so Earth is always directly visible. Parts are exposed to permanent sunlight, vital for solar power. The southern ridge (Malapert Mountain) has a face that is in the radio shadow of Earth, so was chosen as an ideal site for a radio telescope. Beneath the crater floor are the "catacombs". These are networks of tunnels and caverns formed in the Plato aquifer, a very fractured basalt cauldron subsidence structure. It is sealed within ring dykes and capped by a lava sheet over the caldera floor. A large batholith below fed in juvenile water through peripheral conduits. The water spread laterally from the conduits, excavating the faults into caves. Metamorphism, both pneumatolysis and hydrothermal processes, created a very rich mineralogy. This was therefore the obvious site to construct Moonbase Alpha, the catacombs forming the basis of the lower levels of the base while the water reservoirs were tapped and the minerals mined.

The base is constructed on a modular basis with separate buildings which can be sealed and made self supporting. The Main Mission tower is at the hub of the base. It has eight stories above ground and two below. It houses Main Mission and the Main Power Unit, which monitor and control the whole base. Other buildings are built in radial sectors around the tower. Each are usually two stories tall above ground and some also have two stories below ground. Peripheral around the base are the five launch pads, suitable for Eagles and other shuttles. These are separate from other buildings; the only nearby surface and shallow constructions are the travel tubes and service tunnels linking them to the rest of the base. The pads have hydraulic lift shafts to carry spacecraft to the construction and maintenance hangars at depth. Around the whole base are the ring of eight anti gravity towers which provide the full terrestrial gravity for the base and provide radiation and anti meteorite screens.

The Research Station is a series of buildings, mostly constructed within the walls of the crater, with a launch pad. Some areas of the Research Station have only lunar gravity. It is connected to Moonbase Alpha by an underground travel tube and a service tube.

Though external construction was completed in 1994, excavation of new areas continues underground in the catacombs, with the larger caverns being prepared for food production. The deep shelters below the base now include individual living quarters, a Medical Centre and Weapons Room, and a Command Centre, an alternative control room to Main Mission.

The areas and the levels of the base have a confusing nomenclature that arose during stages of construction.

Levels A, B, C and D are the main levels of the base; A and B are above ground, C and D are below. The six higher levels of the Main Mission tower are levels A1 to A6. The catacomb levels are not yet named.

Sections of the base are also named alphabetically. There are seven sections of the base, A to G, each comprising a set of buildings which are capable of being sealed and independently self sufficient for a time. Sometimes synonymous with sections are the twelve areas, which are individual buildings or linked buildings. These are named numerically. Technical, Service, Medical and Reconnaissance sections are portions of the base used predominantly by the organisational groups with those names; communications posts in those areas display the first letter and colour code of that section. Restricted areas show the letter "S" in the security colour code, and residential areas show the letters "LQ" for living quarters.

Section Areas Main facilities
A 1, 2, 3 Main Mission, Main Power Unit, Recycling Plant 1, most facilities
B 4, 5 Medical Section, Hydroponics, Recycling Plant 2, Technical labs
C 6, 7 Recreation Centre, residential area, solar energy plant
D 8 Residential areas, Research labs, Stores, Hydroponics
E 9 Reconnaissance, Astronomy section, Recycling Plant 3, Pharmacy
F 10, 11 NGA 3, Technical and Engineering sections, spacecraft hangars
G 12 NGA 2 & 4, Experimental labs, hangars, furnaces & foundries

© Martin Willey