The Catacombs The Continuity Guide
by Martin Willey

10 Communications

The Moonbase Alpha communications and data handling system supports safe and reliable operation of the base itself as well as Eagle Transporter space missions. The system has the following important features:

The following diagram summarises the main elements (click on the image for a larger version):

Communications systems

The primary communications link between Alpha and distant spacecraft is through orbital data relay satellites (Collision Course). The satellite link presumably is required whenever the spacecraft is below the lunar horizon as seen from Alpha, or if the distance is too great (note that realtime communication always seems to be possible, implying the Eagles usually stay within one light-second [300,000km] of Alpha). The dialogue in e.g. The Last Sunset establishes that radios are used for this purpose; real NASA manned spacecraft use S- or Ku-band radio but few Space:1999 craft carry parabolic dish antenna (the Dragons Domain Ultra probe is a notable exception) so it is possible laser communications technology also is used.

Occasionally "interstellar strength" communications are used. These seem to be immune to normal radio static. According to Collision Course, not all Eagles are equipped with it, although Alpha's orbital satellites are. In Space Brain and Death's Other Dominion "interstellar strength" is referred to. Perhaps related is the "subspace frequency 220" used in The Testament Of Arkadia and the "channel D4" used to contact hyperspace in The Taybor.

The internal moonbase communications and data handling network is controlled by the main computer system (Guardian of Piri). Key features include numerous "X5" computers located in all sections of Alpha, some sort of bus system as the primary means of data distribution, and use of multipurpose displays employing cathode ray tubes and hard-copy printers in conjunction with dedicated displays and controls. The following systems are commonly used:

In addition, there is a wireless system for continuous biomedical data transmission from each crewmember's wrist monitor (see Force of Life). Countless other sensors and equipment also transmit information into the data handling network, e.g. Helena's water sampler in Matter of Life and Death and the radiation dosimeters in Breakaway.

Video phone booths are seen in corridors by travel tubes, but never used (they are usually immediately adjacent to a communications post). Eagle console screens can also be used (in colour only in Breakaway).

The Seance Spectre

In some corridors, there are also "Emergency Alarm" buttons, seen here in Seance Spectre. These have a simple button at waist height, which opens a voice line to Medical. This may be useful if the commlocks are broken and the nearby communications post is non-functional.

Year 1 and 2 test card screens
Breakaway One Moment Of Humanity

Copyright Martin Willey