The Catacombs The Continuity Guide
Moonbase Sections
by Martin Willey

5 Moonbase Sections

The Moonbase staff ("Alphans") are organised into a number of sections, each identified by a colour code worn on their left sleeve. Note however that most rooms (Main Mission, power room in Earthbound, the nuclear generating area in Alpha Child etc.) as well as many planetary landing crews, are staffed by members of all sections.

The Main Mission, Service and Technical sections all seem to be administrative entries employing a diverse workforce of astronauts, scientists, engineers and other professions. The Reconnaissance (Eagle astronauts and flight support), Medical (doctors, nurses and orderlies) and Security (guards) sections appear to be more specialised.

The section heads wear the same sleeve colours in all episodes. Other staff (extras) often change sleeve colour from episode to episode. It seems likely that some personnel (at least 25% of the total 300-plus workforce) are rotated between the Sections on an as-needed basis, or to spread knowledge and experience. Many companies and public organisations do job rotations as a standard policy. Staff rotations would explain why many personnel appear or disappear over the series (Verdeschi, Kano, Mathias and so on).

Personnel permanently affiliated with a specific section are also seen working at different Moonbase locations in different episodes.

Section Colour Responsibility
Commander Black Executive officer. He has unlimited access into all security areas on the base (hence his commlock is stolen is both Alpha Child and Earthbound). He can issue direct command orders through his commlock to computer, overriding normal procedures (as seen in Black Sun, Guardian Of Piri, Collision Course and Dragon's Domain).

Jackie Crawford also wears this colour in Alpha Child.

The actual sleeve colour is closer to a charcoal grey.

Main Mission "Flame"

Oversee internal systems and external operations. Led by controller Paul Morrow in Year One. Tony Verdeschi wears a red sleeve in Year Two, although Main Mission is never mentioned in this series. Fraser is a pilot but also wears a red sleeve, as does Reilly the geologist in All That Glisters. Maya (chief science officer) also belongs to Main Mission. The staff is both diverse and large (red is the most frequently seen sleeve colour, but most episodes focus on Main Mission/Command Centre, so the sample is skewed). Many Main Mission operatives work elsewhere, for instance in Weapons Section (The Metamorph) and the Power Section (The Beta Cloud). On the other hand, Main Mission/Command Centre itself is also staffed by members of other sections. About half of the 90+ personnel wearing a red sleeve are women.

A light orange-red colour on sleeves.

Technical "Rust"

Includes computing staff (Kano), power section engineers (Zoref, Force Of Life), rocket propulsion engineers (Garforth, The Lambda Factor), maintenance crew (Clifford, Ring Around The Moon), miners & geologists ("chief engineer of life support" Osgood, Catacombs Of The Moon; Sanderson, The Seance Spectre; Johnson, The Mark Of Archanon), and scientists (Queller, Voyager's Return).

The large and diverse Technical staff also often works on the premises of other sections (e.g. Petrov as Chief Weapons Section controller in The Metamorph). Women comprise about 25% of the Technical Section staff. Important facilities include the "main technical section" itself (Seed Of Destruction) plus various services areas, laboratories and Eagle hangars. Technical Section is generally responsible for "keeping the complex machines working", providing "emergency repair crews" (Another Time Another Place) and "damage control equipment" (Collision Course) to other sections on request. The Engineering (sub)section builds hardware according to specification (Journey To Where, Seed Of Destruction) and also maintains and tests equipment including Eagle rocket engines (The Lambda Factor). The Power stations (Earthbound, Black Sun) and Nuclear Generating Areas (Force Of Life, Alpha Child) also seem to be run mostly by Technical Section staff.

While Kano often sits on Command Conferences and must represent the section, he is not the head. An un-named Alphan appears in Guardian Of Piri at the conference, named in the script as "head of Technical".

There are proportionately high casualties: out of the about 85 different Technical section engineers seen in the series, at least seventeen are killed or die in accidents.

Collision Course
Service Yellow

Includes data analysts (Sandra Benes), hydroponics personnel (Dan Mateo, The Troubled Spirit; Shermeen Williams, A Matter Of Balance), some research staff (Carolyn Powell, The Lambda Factor) and clerical staff. Torens, a pilot (The Metamorph), is also a yellow sleeve.

Slightly less than half of the staff (~25 out of ~55) are women. Sandra seems to be Service section chief in Year One. Both she and Alibe usually work in Command Centre but sometimes participate in Eagle expeditions as co-pilots (The Full Circle, Devil's Planet). It seems there are several service and technical sections, particularly around the Eagle landing bases (The Testament Of Arkadia). The division of labour between these two branches is not entirely clear, but the Year One writer's guide states that Service has "the basic working responsibility for the environment of the buildings, the food services etc." So it seems Service is in charge of recycling and food production whereas Technical performs engineering related maintenance tasks. The Service Section also carries out (exo-) biological and life support system related research (The Troubled Spirit; The Beta Cloud features a "Hydroponics Experimental Section"). Service also provides heavy duty clothing to the other sections in Black Sun.

Black Sun
Reconnaissance Orange

Eagle pilots and presumably flight support staff. Alan Carter serves as section chief in Year One. The Reconnaissance section astronauts fly the Eagles and also frequently work in Main Mission/Command Centre as mission controllers (NASA's astronauts perform the same function as "CapComs"). Reconnaissance works closely with Technical to make sure the Eagles are checked, loaded and on standby when needed. Casualties are undoubtedly high: more than 20 pilots out of ~70 by the end of Year Two. The Reconnaissance Section seems to be predominantly male; only one out seven Alphans wearing orange is a woman.

Some pilots are not in the section, notably Bill Fraser, who wears a red Main Mission sleeve but seems primarily to be a pilot (his ID badge reads "Pilot"). Torens in The Metamorph is also a pilot, but with a yellow sleeve. Senior staff from other sections may also be qualified pilots, notably Commander John Koenig, Tony Verdeschi, Paul Morrow and David Kano.

A pale orange, easily confused with the yellow of service on-screen.

Space Brain
Medical White

Doctors and nursing staff, plus medical technicians (Sally Martin, The Lambda Factor). The section chief is Dr.Helena Russell, assisted by Dr.Bob Mathias, Dr.Ben Vincent, Dr.Ed Spencer and Dr.Raul Nunez (The Mark of Archanon). Medical maintains "stretcher teams" (The Beta Cloud) for internal first aid emergencies, while "Medical Rescue Units" (Devil's Planet, The Bringers Of Wonder) perform the same function on space missions. There is also a "surgical team" (The Seance Spectre) of doctors to deal with life threatening injuries.

The Medical Centre is unusually large for a relatively small community of 300+ people (we see about 70 different doctors and nurses -- 60% of which are women). On the other hand, at least two thirds of the Medical Centre personnel seem to work for other sections in other episodes so it is possible that the nursing staff in particular is only assigned to Medical on a part-time basis. According to the Year One writer's guide the main tasks of Medical Section are: 1) maintain the health of all Alphans, 2) carry out "mental and psychological experimentation upon all factors affecting people in space", i.e. human life sciences experiments.

The Exiles
Security Purple

Guard secure areas such as the Main Power Unit (Earthbound, but not the generating area in Force Of Life) and the Protein Store (The Testament Of Arkadia). On stand by to control disciplinary problems (Catacombs Of The Moon, The Seance Spectre), alien investigations and defence (Ring Around The Moon, Earthbound, End Of Eternity, Mission Of The Darians, The Infernal Machine, The Testament Of Arkadia, Brian The Brain, The Beta Cloud).

"Defence teams" (The Dorcons) usually consist of two to four guards. Note that some female security guards were seen in Year One episodes (Breakaway, Missing Link, Guardian Of Piri) but the overwhelming majority of guards seen in the series (all but three out of almost 60) seem to be male. Although Tony is nominally head of Security, he wears a red sleeve. Note that the Year Two Weapons Section (which controls Moonbase laser cannons and missiles on the lunar surface) is manned by personnel from other sections than Security.

All guards carry stun guns and sometimes rifles or small missile launchers - the Year One writer's guide states that the guards are "trained as space arms specialists". The relatively large size of the Security and Medical sections suggest Moonbase Alpha may have served as a military base during the "global war" on 1987 (The Rules Of Luton).

Missing Link
- None Victor Bergman and Simmonds (Breakaway, Earthbound) do not have coloured sleeves. Breakaway

Note that Main Mission and Command Centre are staffed by members of almost all sections, not just red-sleeved Main Mission crews, who often appear in other locations.

A number of special teams and units exist in addition to the sections:

Mining Section: Miners searching for minerals in the catacombs under the Moonbase (The Mark Of Archanon, Catacombs Of The Moon)
Radioactive Monitoring Team: Monitor radiation at nuclear waste sites, comprising Alan Carter, Ehrlich and Bartlett (The Bringers Of Wonder part 2)
Records Unit: Films significant events, including Eagle crashes. Only one crew member, Clive Kander, who only works in one episode (The Bringers Of Wonder part 1)
Rescue units: Emergency crews who deal with crashes, fires and rescue situations. There are various specialist teams, some of which many be synonyms: rescue units (Ring Around The Moon, Missing Link, The Exiles, The Seance Spectre), rescue teams (The A B Chrysalis), crash units (Earthbound, Voyager's Return, The Last Sunset, War Games), damage crews (The Dorcons), damage control units (War Games), emergency crews (Another Time, Another Place, Voyager's Return, The Seance Spectre, The Dorcons), fire units (The Seance Spectre, The Dorcons), decontamination units (The Exiles, The Seance Spectre).
Science Board: Approves & allocates resources for scientific research (The Lambda Factor)
Surface Exploration Teams: 4-man prospecting teams who explore the lunar surface for a month at a time (after The Seance Spectre this is reduced to 15 days). Comprising staff from technical (2), service and Main Mission sections.

Copyright Martin Willey. Comments thanks to Marcus Lindroos.