Alpha Technical Section

Nitcentral's Bulletin Brash Reflections: Space: 1999: Alpha Technical Section
By Peter Stoller on Sunday, March 24, 2002 - 3:25 pm:

Hey! It appears there's a brand new board here! My wishes have been granted. Thank you, O noble moderator!

Hopefully we can discuss tech here as well as nitpick about it. I'n going to gather some notes and then post them. Be back soon!

By Todd Pence on Sunday, March 24, 2002 - 6:51 pm:

You're welcome.

By Peter Stoller on Sunday, March 24, 2002 - 7:07 pm:

This board is for people to discuss the nitty-gritty details of what it takes to operate and maintain Moonbase Alpha's infrastructure and resources, including Eagles.

Alpha was probably never intended to operate self-sufficiently for so many months or years, independent of support from the Earth and orbital facilities. It would be interesting to figure out what the Alphans would have done to make it so.

The following topic began on the "Space Brain" board, continued on the Sink: 1999 board, and came to be continued here. To recap:

By Craig Rohloff on Monday, March 18, 2002:
Wouldn't it be prudent for someone to have removed all useful items from the bomb eagle? Surely Alpha can't afford to waste anything, even something as mundane as a container.

By Peter Stoller on Wednesday, March 20, 2002:
I'm surprised they sent an entire Eagle. That's many tons of refined materials they're throwing away, not to mention a very serviceable spacecraft.

By Craig Rohloff on Thursday, March 21, 2002:
I'd also wondered why the remote Eagle that crashes in NDA2 in "Breakaway" had a passenger module. I SUPPOSE it was a recon module, with the onboard computer wall to aid in analyzing whatever data was found, but still...

By Peter Stoller on Saturday, March 23, 2002:
The remote-controlled Eagle in "Breakaway" was specifically equipped to monitor magnetic levels, and that equipment must have been aboard the recon module. They didn't figure on the Eagle's flight systems being overwhelmed by the magnetic surge.

I believe an Eagle isn't meant to be operated without some central module in place. An Eagle isn't properly balanced without one, and undue stress on the spaceframe will occur if you fire the main motors harder than is needed for modest maneuvers like exchanging pods. In "Dragon's Domain", Tony Cellini breaks the rules of proper Eagle operation when he speeds away at full throttle to reach the derelict Ultra probe first. Without a central module in place he's probably bending the spaceframe out of alignment with all that thrust. When he seperates the command module the rest of the Eagle "falls away", and you have to wonder if they lost that one too or disptached a cargo Eagle or two to recover it.

By Craig Rohloff on Saturday, March 23, 2002:
There was one instance where a module-less Eagle is used: Collision Course. One of the Eagles placing a mine on the asteroid just has a line hooked up to the main truss between the forward and aft modules.

By Peter Stoller on Sunday, March 24, 2002:
You are correct, Craig.
I just took another look at "Collision Course" and I see the nuke-laying Eagles are not using the magnetic winch-bearing cargo modules. Eagle Ten has a line and claw suspended from a bare frame, and Eagle One has the same line and claw attached to the bottom of a standard pod.

I may have been hasty in surmising that operating an Eagle without a central module is not reccommended. The actual 44" studio model was built very sturdily; a grown man could stand on top of it without breaking it (though that was probably also not reccommended!) It was seen crash-landing on several occasions without the spaceframe coming apart, so the stress of full thrust may have been well within the frame's ability to bear even without the aid of a central module.

I can imagine that the spaceframe would flex a bit more though, and stronger vibrations running the length of the ship would result in a harsher ride.

By Craig Rohloff on Sunday, March 24, 2002:
The support truss LOOKED sturdy enough. It was supported unconsciously by the podless Eagle in Collision Course.

The likely reason for the podless Eagle in "Collision Course" and the standard pod on Carterís Eagle is because they had to deliver 12 of those large nuclear charges in short order, and Alpha probably doesnít have that many cargo-carrying pods, at least not after losing some of them in the Area Two disaster.

Eagles Ten, One and possibly others were rigged with some quickly constructed delivery devices for the occasion. Eagle Tenís unit features a mounting platform bolted to the center of the frame. Carterís unit must have been so quickly constructed that it wasnít checked for proper release and malfunctions when he tries it. That, or something vibrated loose when he pushed his faulty main booster as hard it would go. (It wasnít properly checked either. Told you they were in a hurry. An Eagle technical crew chief somewhere probably got reamed out and demoted by an angry Koenig; weíve seen him chew heads off before!)

"Space Brain" does show a winch-bearing cargo Eagle, but itís equipped with a claw rather than an electromagnet. Itís used to pick up the meteorite formerly known as Eagle One. This does not look like the same claw used in "Collision Course".

The meteorite analysis in "Space Brain" gives us some interesting facts about the Eagle.

Weight: 328 tons

Contstituent elements [presumably in order of largest percentage to smallest, but I wouldnít count on it]:

Stainless steel
Carbon fibers
Nuclear fuel cells

(And a small amount of human tissue, naturally.) This doesnít seem to include the organic matter evident on the surface that crushed it into a meteor. There may be more constituent elements present in too small a percentage to be considered noteworthy by Alphaís computer.

By Craig Rohloff on Monday, March 25, 2002 - 7:21 am:

Wow, this board will be cool!

The recap above of my March 24th post seems a little confusing... The line "It was supported unconsciously by the podless Eagle in 'Colission Course'." was referring to the IDEA of the support truss looking sturdy enough, not to the truss itself. Just to clarify. :-)

So, are we sticking with Eagles for the time being, or are we just discussing whatever comes to mind? I have a few things to say about the Eagle launch pads and hangers, but they'll keep for a while. (But, just as a preview, how DID the travel tubes get right up to the boarding tubes?)

By Peter Stoller on Monday, March 25, 2002 - 4:56 pm:

We can discuss whatever comes to mind regarding Moonbase operations. Think of it as a backwards-looking writer's guide, extrapolating from what's shown in the finished episodes and filling in the unseen parts ourselves. Try to differentiate between established facts (few) and personal conjecture (as many as we care to make).

Martin Wiley's excellent Moonbase Guide in the Continuity section of his Catacombs website covers a lot of the topics suitable for discussion on this board. He points out several interesting details and discontinuities and it is worth a look; a lot of study has already been done there.

Matters concerning duty rosters and cross-training of Moonbase personell would not be out of place here either.

I figured that when a travel tube car approaches the launch pad building it either inclines uphill a short distance to meet the level of the boarding tube, or once it reaches its terminal a lift platform raises it to the level of the boarding tube.

I have to pick this nit: The trapezoidal end door seen on the outside of the travel tube car doesn't match the rectangular one seen on the inside. Also, the end of the car doesn't have enough room on either side for the door to recede into a pocket, even if it's split down the middle. Perhaps there is no pocket and it slides outside the car, past the car's diameter. The tubes do widen out in places, possibly at the terminal as well, leaving an upper and lower rail to support the car.

By Peter Stoller on Monday, March 25, 2002 - 7:32 pm:

After a closer look, the travel tube car appears to park just a few steps away from the Eagle's hatch, implying that it travels nearly to the end of the telescoping boarding tube.

By Peter Stoller on Monday, March 25, 2002 - 9:29 pm:

Oh, and did I say established facts are few? They're not. Toss Starlog's Alpha Tech Notebook and spend a few hours in the Catcombs Continuity Guide instead! All facts, no conjectures. an excellent place to start.

By Douglas Nicol on Tuesday, March 26, 2002 - 2:58 pm:

Here's another thing regarding Eagle replacements. Maybe, just maybe Alpha has the capability of producing its own at a low rate.
This might seem ridiculous, but the same problem came up in Battlestar Galactica with Viper losses. However, in that they explained that since many of the rag tag fleet were ex industrial ships, they had a number of foundry ships turning out new Vipers. These replacements were not quite as well made or finished as the Galactica originals but would suffice.

Something similiar?

By Peter Stoller on Tuesday, March 26, 2002 - 4:28 pm:

It hardly sounds ridiculous. Given the rate at which they lose irrecoverable Eagles, it might've become necessary to build brand new ones, provided they have the means and the raw materials, or suitable substitutes.

Consider post-revolution Cuba, where the U.S. trade embargo withheld any replacement parts for
existing American automobiles. To keep them running for decades local machine shops fabricated the necessary parts for motorists that could afford them.

If Alpha doesn't have a foundry, the Alphans would build one if it was necessary.

There is likely a clean room on Alpha that can produce replacement electronic components.

Alpha need not rely exclusively on recyclables. They do mine the moon for ores (titanium is rarer on Earth than it is on the moon) and any uninhabitable planets they encounter (that are too boring to appear in any episodes) may yield valuable elements and compounds, such as oxygen and water.

An irreparably damaged Eagle wreck would certainly be cannibalized for parts and materials, and an otherwise useless command module could see a second career as a flight training simulator.

By Peter Stoller on Tuesday, March 26, 2002 - 8:19 pm:

Evidence of post-breakaway construction projects are the 3 tanks from "Infernal Machine", the remote research facility in "The Exiles", the defensive gun silos that popped up in year 2, excavating the catacombs, and the Alpha glider in "Immunity Syndrome".

By Douglas Nicol on Wednesday, March 27, 2002 - 5:26 am:

We don't know if the remote research facility was a new construction or was part of Alpha in the first place. Since Alpha itself played host to many experiments it would make sense to have an isolated lab just in case.

There seems to be a number of outlying facilities.

Nuclear Waste Dumps 1 and 2 (Both Destroyed)

The Nuclear Waste Domes in Bringers of Wonder. Were these a new construction? I would imagine so, as there might be byproducts of Alphas reactors.

There was also a 'pit', in the episode in season 2 where the command staff faced an open rebellion from some of the surface crews.

It is also possible that some of the Eagle modifications were done post Breakaway. For instance the refuelling Eagle might be a new build, as there would have been little need for it prior to Breakaway. One thing that seems to have been done is to increase the number of armed Eagles. As well as the traditional chin mounted laser cannon, there is the remote turret seen in Devils Planet. In contrast, in War Games, Alpha only seems to have 6 or 7 armed Eagles.

By Craig Rohloff on Wednesday, March 27, 2002 - 6:58 am:

I like to think the laser equipped tanks were actually retrofitted construction and exploration vehicles... I think this got discussed on the board for "The Infernal Machine." I'll check later.

As for the travel tubes at the launch terminals, I figured on a lift raising the car to the level of the boarding tube, since angling the tube would tip the car's occupants at an awkward angle. I seriously doubt the cars could REALLY get to the end of the extendable boarding tubes, though, given the design of each component, and I feel what we see onscreen was either a cost-saving measure for set production or the set designer(s) and modelmaker(s) not coordinating with each other (or a combination of the two). I do believe Brian Johnson has said that the interior set Kieth Wilson designed for the Eagle is nothing like what Johnson would have come up with. (I think I read that on Space:, or some other website.)

By the way, I've been checking out the Catacombs Continuity Guide (and its subsection, the Moonbase Guide) for over a year now, and it IS one of the best sites out there!

By Duane Parsons on Wednesday, March 27, 2002 - 7:24 am:

I asked this in the Sink, but I can repeat it - How many Eagles did Moonbase Alpha have on 'September 13, 1999?' I see you have discussed the possibility of some type of Eagle production. Also, why the personnel level difference between season 1 and 2. My brother and I figured out personnle loss based on what was shown and gave them all the breaks (one pilot in each Eagle destroyed by Quint in 'Infernal Machine') and the laser tanks were remote control which was in the novelization (is that a word?). We came up with a figure in the mid-200 (I want to say 268), then the good doctor says there are near 300 still???
Also, I want to say thanks for this discussion.

By Craig Rohloff on Wednesday, March 27, 2002 - 8:58 am:

OK, I checked out the tank discussion; it's on the board for "The Infernal Machine," and tim gueguen first mentioned the construction/exploration vehicle idea. I expanded a little on his comments. If you want, I can repost or at least reiterate here on this board. (Welcome to the Department of Redundancy Department.)

Duane, I've seen (and probably have printed off somewhere around here) stats on the number of Eagles, but I don't have time to look the info up. Can someone else field this one for me? (I do remember that the Starlog Tech Manual and Eagle blueprints discuss Alpha having the capability to repair, rebuild and even construct an Eagle with the parts and facilities on hand.)

As for personnel issues, I think we may have to look at the "Season 1 is seperate from Season 2" rule.

By Duane Parsons on Wednesday, March 27, 2002 - 12:40 pm:

Craig, thanks for the info. Well, I just have to get used to the seperate seasons and let it go at that. I did look over the 'Infernal Machine', but do not recall what was said about the laser tanks. When my brother and I were doing the personnel loss count, we did include one person in each tank, but gave the base a break based on the novelization.

Hey, a question came to mind. Do the lasers have close, medium and long range? This came up when the guy who was after the 'Dragon' in Dragon's Domain. He was hit at close range by Koenig with a laser on stun which cause more 'damage' to him which led to a longer recovery time. So, further one is from the firing laser, less recovery time?

By Craig Rohloff on Wednesday, March 27, 2002 - 1:18 pm:

That sounds plausible, as long as you're talking about the gun's STUN function. KILL would kill, regardless of range; I suspect the closer a target is to the gun when it's set to kill, the more damage the target would take. Longer range would short out the victim's neuro/cardio/respiritory functions, while shorter range would rupture organs and cause burns in addition to that.
(Realistically, I'm sure there's a range limit to a shot fired from the guns, regardless of setting. Whether or not the shot is fired in an atmosphere-as well as that atmosphere's composition-would affect the range, too.)

This conjecture on my part is extrapolated from observations of gun usage in various episodes. There is other info floating around about the guns (and the fact that there are other settings, hence four barrels), but once again right now isn't a convenient time for me to go searching. I should have more time this weekend, but feel free to do some digging on your own--it's fun, especially when it's about something you're interested in!

By Craig Rohloff on Wednesday, March 27, 2002 - 1:33 pm:

Back to Eagles for a moment...

How would the command module land after detaching from the main body? I'd often wondered that over the years. In space, it could simply dock with another Eagle. Of course, there'd be that Eagle's command module floating around then, so maybe a better solution would be for the first CM to get close to the other whole Eagle, then have astronauts perform an EVA and tether the CM to the Eagle's frame. As long as there's no atmospheric entry involved, I should think the Eagle could safely get back to Moonbase Alpha (or the spacedocks in pre-Breakaway times) with such an arrangement. (Note to Peter Stoller: I'm sure this isn't a preferred flight method, of course, due to the stress it would put on the frame; just imagine trying it without a center pod in place. Now that combination just might be enough to break the Eagle's back!)
But how would a command module land on a planet or moon? I'd guessed there must be retractable landing gear; maybe some of the lower panels on the CM extended downward on short legs. Finally, I saw a photo on the internet (it may have been at the now defunct Cybrary, or else the CyberMuseum, if that's still out there) of a model someone had made showing a similar idea. Nothing fancy, just something to enable the CM to land relatively safely. Of course, I doubt that the model is "official," but it would be interesting to find out if this had been a design consideration...

By Douglas Nicol on Wednesday, March 27, 2002 - 3:07 pm:

It maybe wasn't intended as such Craig. Though some retractable gear sounds plausible. The small indentations on the command module are meant to be maneuvering thruster IIRC which could help.

By Peter Stoller on Wednesday, March 27, 2002 - 8:40 pm:

I saw the Eagle command module model photo; it had 3 fold-out landing struts. Elsewhere I have seen cross-sectional blueprints that detailed an ejection system. Panels on the lower hull blow away and the control chairs are ejected through the cabin floor. The command module has modest streamlining and the Starlog blueprints label the raised panels "heat shielding", so itís conceivable that a conventional atmospheric re-entry is possible, deploying parachutes for touchdown.

I agree that the tanks were most likely existing lunar vehicles retrofitted with armament and remote control interfaces, but the remote landing pad and research facility feels like new construction. The set features bare lunar rock walls. After the Technical sectionís pressure bulkheads were breached by the first Ariel probe (Last Sunset), a more cautious approach to examining Mysterious Unknown Objects was probably deemed necessary.

I donít trust the conjectural information given in Starlogís Tech Notebook and supplements to be canonical. For example, the blueprint particulars list the Eagleís weight at 238 tons (which actually sounds better than the hefty 328 tons spoken of in "Space Brain"). Standard ceiling height is only 5.05 feet (1.54 meters) which Roberto Baldassari rightly discounted when he created his own Eagle blueprints. The Mark IX Hawk is claimed to be the direct replacement for the SHADO Interceptor, directly linking Space: 1999 to UFO.

The losses and gains in Alphaís personnel over the course of the series have been thoroughly outlined in the Catacombs Continuity Guide. The total personnel numbers stated onscreen remain near 300 throughout. Presumably a strictly limited number of new births are permitted (which we never see). All the Eagles featured throughout the series are catalogued as well. It is worth noting that no Eagles mentioned are given designations higher than the number 29. The Starlog blueprint notes suggest a total of 40 Eagles.

Numerous discrepancies between Brian Johnsonís exterior designs and Keith Wilsonís interior sets are evident. The boarding tube is one of the most glaring examples, but they are easily ignored when viewing the episodes.

Personally, Iím surprised that the Eagle lacks retractable landing gear and exterior floodlights. Perhaps these were designed but too difficult or expensive to incorporate into the model in time for photography. They did plumb aerosol cannisters into the utility pod to simulate vertical thrusters. With more time and money Brian Johnson incorporated all three effects into the large Nostromo model in "Alien".

By Douglas Nicol on Thursday, March 28, 2002 - 5:33 am:

Peter, while I follow your reasoning for the remote pad, and it makes a lot of sense, I was thinking it might be there for experiments that if they got out of control could be dangerous for the base as a whole, like certain medical experiments.
Then again, something like that might be in the medical facility.

By Craig Rohloff on Thursday, March 28, 2002 - 7:29 am:

Douglas, I believe that's what the isolation wards in Medical were for. (Examples used in various ways appear in "Breakaway," "Force of Life," "End of Eternity" and "The Troubled Spirit.")
There also appear to be specialized, though less contained, rooms like a real hospital would have (autopsy ward in "Matter of Life and Death," surgical room in "Space Brain").
I think it's fair to assume there are also standard clinics, dental facilities, OB/GYN, and the like in addition to the various recovery wards and care units actually shown onscreen. I suspect as time wears on, a pediatrics ward would be added.

By tim gueguen on Friday, March 29, 2002 - 12:04 am:

As far as the 311 figure given in "Breakaway" goes I think it really can't be taken as gospel given that later episodes contradict it. In "Matter of Life and Death" for example Kano notes that Computer predicts they will pass 10 million planets on their current course, of which statistically 3600 should be Earth like, and notes this works out to about 10 planets for every Alphan. 3600 divided by 10 is 360. Perhaps the newscaster in "Breakaway" was reading copy that was supposed to say 377 instead of 311. :-) A personnel count of about 360 works well if one wants to reconcile the deaths in year one with Helena's opening count of 297 for year two in "The Metamorph."

By Douglas Nicol on Friday, March 29, 2002 - 2:35 pm:

There could be another explanation for personnel number discrepancies. One episode in Season 2 had a character who had been part of a school science trip and got trapped there. Maybe 311 is the permanent number of people stationed there with the extra being made up of university teams, attached researched personnel and others who are there on a 'guest' basis.

By Craig Rohloff on Friday, March 29, 2002 - 6:31 pm:

Now that's an interesting twist...I'd always presumed Commissioner Simmonds was NOT part of the 311 count, but never extrapolated to include any other (unseen) personnel.
Another way I had looked at this in the past was that 311 was the number of people left after the Breakaway, as several Eagle pilots were killed during the explosions that tore Luna from Earth's orbit. The biggest argument against that line of thinking, though, is that Earth would have no way of knowing how many personnel had been killed. Oh, well.

By Peter Stoller on Saturday, March 30, 2002 - 11:35 am:

If visitors are unlisted personnel, then Prof. Bergman should be among them. No section colored left sleeve means unassigned. Bergman should not appear on any duty rosters. In "Black Sun" and Alpha Child" he is working and teaching in his living quarters.

By Douglas Nicol on Saturday, March 30, 2002 - 1:22 pm:

Well the character from year 2, I think it was explained that she was school age when she appeared on the base, but she became a bit older and took up a job. This might have been voluntary but was more likely a case of everyone having to pull their weight.
Peter, I'm sure I've seen more than Bergman and Simmonds with the plain sleeves, but I haven't watched the episodes in a while.
I thought Ernst Queller/Linden might be plain sleeved, but maybe not.

By Craig Rohloff on Saturday, March 30, 2002 - 8:21 pm:

Queller/Linden's sleeve is seen briefly in Medical and during his final flight aboard Voyager 1; it's the rusty brown assigned to the Technical Section. Throughout most of the episode, his beige lab coat covers it.

I don't recall any other plain sleeves in Season 1. Perhaps Dr. James Warren ("The Troubled Spirit") had one; he was another lab coat afficianado, and his shirt sleeve was never seen. I always assumed that his sleeve was yellow like the other personnel asssigned to the Botanical Section.

As for Season 2, it's been too long since I've seen most of those eps, so I don't know.

By Craig Rohloff on Sunday, March 31, 2002 - 8:12 am:

Subject change...
I was re-reading the Breakaway board, and came across something I'd posted on 25 January 2002, which I thought might fit on this board...

What type of shifts or watches are present on Moonbase Alpha? When Koenig first arrives at Alpha on 9 September 1999, his touchdown time is announced by the pilot as 2335 Lunar Time. I'm presuming they still use the 24 hour clock in order to coordinate with Earth; would Lunar Time be coordinted with GMT?
At any rate, it's just before midnight, and judging by all the personnel milling about, it's right around shift/watch change, too. So does Alpha operate with four 6-hour shifts/watches (midnight to 0600, 0600-1200, 1200-1800 and 1800-midnight), or three 8-hour ones (midnight-0800, 0800-1600, and 1600-midnight)? There's no way to infer from the episodes what it is, and either one would work. I suspect the 8-hour shifts would allow for more time to complete experiments within a shift, whereas the 6-hour shifts may be too short. Plus, we see a lot of the same personnel at their stations a lot of the time; with shorter shifts, you'd think you'd see different personnel more frequently. Finally, working one 6-hour shift leaves a lot of free time, unless it's six hours on duty, six off, six on again and six off agian. Talk about screwing up one's biorhythms! Of course, maybe they work TWO 6-hour shifts in a row, with two off...
Any thoughts? (That is, Any thoughts besides "Craig, you need to get a life.")

Does anyone even care?

By Peter Stoller on Sunday, March 31, 2002 - 10:37 am:

We've all got lives in addition to this hobby. I never thought much about it, but I've always imagined something like the 8-hour shifts.

What interests me is how Alpha's mandate has changed. Since the mid-1980s Alpha was there primarily as the office supervising the nuclear waste disposal. Space exploration and research took a second seat. Alpha probably had been growing steadily through the 1990s as more support and research buildings and launchpads were added.

The Eagles may be newly introduced craft. In "Breakaway" we never see more than four at a time. When the waste dispersal effort begins, Paul reports, "conversion on the first six Eagles completed". I estimate no fewer than six or more than a dozen Eagles equipped with cargo pods are involved (though Paul does call one "number 26"). Alan states that there are no extra ships; all besides Commissioner Simmonds' Eagle are committed. Where are all the other Eagles? Besides the two that crash-landed earlier in the episode and the other two that returned to base with "navigational failures", the rest may be in various uncompleted stages of assembly down in Alpha's hangars.
Of course, this hypothesis is invalid if someone can point out a scene taking place before 1999 that features an Eagle.

By Craig Rohloff on Sunday, March 31, 2002 - 2:18 pm:

The Ultra Probe crew was taken from Alpha to the Interplanetery Space Station by an Eagle in 1996, and the control systems for both the Ultra Probe Ship and an Eagle were compatible, according to Victor Bergman several years later. ("Dragon's Domain")

I think Paul's report about the conversion of the first six Eagles reflects a couple points:
(1) most of the Eagles are not normally configured for cargo hauling, as evidenced by the hanger shots where they all appear to have passenger/recon pods in place
(2) it takes time to remove the p/r modules and replace them with cargo modules
We could further infer that there are not an equal number of cargo modules to Eagles, especially since Moonbase Alpha has been well established (i.e. completed) for at least a few years, and an overabundance of cargo modules (for construction & cargo hauling purposes)wouldn't be necessary. I couldn't say for certain how many cargo modules were present, but I wouldn't think they would be able to outfit more than 1/4 of the Eagle fleet at one time.
As to why most of the Eagles in storage were already fitted with p/r modules, instead of being left empty, I suspect it was a safety procedure, so that the Eagles would be ready to go at a moment's notice in the event Operation Exodus needed to be implemented.

I do like Peter's idea of an Eagle assembly plant on Alpha; it only makes sense that the base would be able to produce some of its own vessels (or major components thereof) even prior to the Breakaway. I know the old 'Starlog' Eagle blueprints aren't accurate, nor is the old model kit of Alpha, but they mention a Vehicle Assembly Section and a Vehicle Mainenance Section respectively.

By Peter Stoller on Sunday, March 31, 2002 - 3:45 pm:

I can understand having a limited number of winch platform cargo modules available, but then Alpha should still have some ships left over for the mission Koenig gives to Carter. Alan states that there are no extra ships; all besides Commissioner Simmonds' Eagle are committed. I ask again, where are all the other Eagles?

By Craig Rohloff on Sunday, March 31, 2002 - 4:34 pm:

Oh, yeah, I guess I got a little sidetracked...OK, how about this? We only see a few Eagles onscreen at any time, with the implication that there are several more out & about. As we would see later in "Collision Course," Eagles could be fitted with winches to their p/r modules (Carter's Eagle) or directly to the main support truss (Eagle 10), so presumably some Eagles were outfitted in such a manner after there were no more cargo modules left.
But that's STILL a lot of Eagles unaccounted for... all right, Peter, you got me!
I guess your idea about several being incomplete (or at the very least, not flight-ready) may be the best solution. That actually ties in with Anton Gorski's less-than-stellar handling of things on Alpha just prior to the Breakaway (re: the Meta Probe)...not having the Eagle fleet in a state of flight readiness seems a bit lax, to put it nicely. On the other hand, in Gorski's defense, I could just see the Lunar Finance Committee's justification: "Eagles are expensive, space travel is expensive. If we're to launch the Meta Probe, we've got to tighten our belts elsewhere. Alpha's been well-established for years now, and the need for total evacuation seems remote. Besides, we can send ships from Earth or the spacedocks if needed." I'm sure Simmonds cut a deal of his own to get Eagle production/maintenance budgets cut in favor of the Meta Probe, which could explain further why he was so adamant about saving face to the LFC.
Finally, to further support Peter's idea, it would explain why Koenig was convinced initiating Operation Exodus immediately after the Breakaway would only lead to failure; either some personnel would get left behind, or the Eagles would be dangerously overloaded with people and not enough supplies to make the return trip to Earth.

By Peter Stoller on Sunday, March 31, 2002 - 4:54 pm:

That's a pretty insightful explanation! It makes perfect sense. Highest marks!

By tim gueguen on Sunday, March 31, 2002 - 6:01 pm:

Its also likely that however many Eagles Alpha had on Sept. 13 some of them wouldn't have been operational once the order to disperse the waste was given. They would have been undergoing regular maintenance, were getting specific malfunctions tended to etc. Having 100% of the Eagle fleet instantly operational at all times would be impossible, and in most cases before Breakaway wouldn't be an urgent requirement anyways. And I bet there would be at least one Eagle that would be a "hangar queen" because it was especially liable to having technical problems, and would often be unavailable having something fixed. I would also imagine several Eagles would be unavailable for breaking up the waste as they were rescue units on standby in case of a crash.

By Craig Rohloff on Monday, April 01, 2002 - 6:56 am:

Good points, tim. I forgot about the rescue Eagles; I agree they are dedicated craft that would never be used other than for rescue/medical ops.
Thanks, Peter, for the compliment...I owe it to you, though; if I hadn't pondered your question as much as I did, I likely never would have come up with any of the explanations I posted, nor even considered the basic question in the first place. This is what I love about these boards! We get to see old things in a new light, and in this case, we've even solved a nit within the bounds of what was observed onscreen (unlike The Window Thing in "The Last Sunset," which required us to make assumptions)!

By Craig Rohloff on Monday, April 01, 2002 - 12:59 pm:

In the episode "Ring Around the Moon," the shield-equipped Eagle appears to have forward-facing running lights on its forward landing pods, just above the landing gear assemblies. (See the board for that episode for a description of the actual scene.)
In my opinion, it makes sense to equip an Eagle with lights in that position, to help facilitate landing in dark areas, or to illuminate the way ahead when flying low over darkened terrain.
The only problem is that they'd be useless if the bottom inset areas of the Eagle's command module didn't have windows. We never see the lower insets equipped with windows, and comments from Brian Johnson himself (see verify that he considers the areas to be solid.
But the two upper insets that do have windows have such a severely limited field of view (with downward viewing non-existant), the lower insets either HAVE to be windows, or else the Eagle pilots have to rely a LOT on instrument augmentation.
So here's one case where I do want to violate what's "official" for the sake of realism (inasmuch as we can discuss realism in a science fiction series). Think of the lower windows as the equivilent to those on contemporary Earth helicopters. It could be said that a protective shroud can be closed over them, hence the aparrent solidity of the lower insets.
I thought I had some minor observable justification, too. In some scenes throughout the series where we see a side view of a pilot in the cockpit, his legs and feet appear to be illuminated, as though by light coming in through a lower window. Of course, it could just be a viewscreen/instrument readout in that position...
So, what do you think? If we're sticking with what's observable or can be inferred from what's observable, I guess I'll go along with the solid insets, with interior readouts by the pilot's feet. If we're being a little more flexible, does the lower windows idea seem workable?

By Craig Rohloff on Monday, April 01, 2002 - 1:09 pm:

BTW, isn't it ironic that I talk about going against what's viewable just after the prior posts where we stayed within the bounds of what's viewable? Oh, well, at least I'm willing to concede my window hypothesis can be disregarded.

Another BTW: 'equivilent' = 'eqivalent' (Typo.)

By Peter Stoller on Monday, April 01, 2002 - 4:33 pm:

I've often wondered about the lower viewports and the Eagles' seemingly crummy visibility. Real spacecraft up to the 1970s were like crawling into a box with two little portholes the size of saucers. A VTOL requires good visibility below the craft, and the only example we're shown is what's optically matted into the console screens in "Breakaway", visual confirmation of the waste covers dragged away and cannisters picked up. The lower port's field of view would be a small, frustrating triangle too far from pilot's face to be of much use.
If the lower ports aren't for the pilot's eyes, maybe they serve cameras and/or scanners, or other artificial eyes. The insets might be a good place for amber "fog lights", while the outboard pods would be a good place to mount running lights and "headlights" widely spaced for atmospheric conditions. (Just picture this thing photographed on a smoky set, cutting diffuse beams through an alien atmosphere...)

By Peter Stoller on Wednesday, April 03, 2002 - 7:20 pm:

Why is the Eagle so heavy? Roberto Baldassari repeats 328 tons on his plans. That sounds like a real pig! The space shuttle orbiter is 83 tons. However, a 747 is 370 tons and a long-range 747-400 is 455 tons gross takeoff weight (!) so something that heavy can fly, apparently.

By Craig Rohloff on Thursday, April 04, 2002 - 8:01 am:

I once heard that Bernoulli's Principle illustrates that with enough speed (thrust) anything can fly, even an un-aerodynamic shape like a brick. (Any aircraft engineers out there, feel free to elaborate on or correct my statement, please.) Of course, with terrestrial aircraft, you have wing shape helping maximize the effect by altering airflow to create lift.

Is the 747 weight you cited with or without a full fuel load?

Don't forget, on the moon, the Eagle would only be 1/6 what it weighs on Earth. Hmm, does the artificial gravity used inside an Eagle to give its occupents and cargo an Earth-type gravity (and weight) affect weight on the Eagle's exterior?

By ScottN on Thursday, April 04, 2002 - 9:25 am:

Generally, when dealing with space ships, you're talking mass, not weight, so it would still mass 328 Mg (megagrams - or metric tonnes), regardless. The amount of thrust necessary to move such a ship doesn't change. The amount necessary to lift it against a gravitational field, however, is much less on the moon, because it only has to counteract about 55 tons (110K pounds -- and yes I know I'm mixing measures here) of "downward" force instead of 330 tons (660K pounds).

By Peter Stoller on Thursday, April 04, 2002 - 4:09 pm:

Eagles can provide single-seat rides between the Earth and the Moon, so it has to lift against Earth's gravity. That it does so quite easily is not in dispute. 328 tons just strikes me as very heavy for it's size, especially when compared to flying machines of a similar size. The CH-47 Chinook helicopter weighs about 15 tons; the V-22 Osprey about 25 tons. The shuttle orbiter, minus payload is 83 tons. I'm trying to account for all the mass that goes into an Eagle. They must be built much harder than conventional craft; they withstand crashes largely in one piece instead of disintegrating. Their nuclear powerplants and fusion engines probably outweigh any existing craft's engines, not to mention the containment shielding they'd require.

As I understand it, gross takeoff weight means fully fueled and loaded. The long-range 747-400 is an enormous aircraft with a lot of lifting area to overcome it's great weight. The Eagle's VTOL rockets are powerful enough to do the same.

By Craig Rohloff on Friday, April 05, 2002 - 7:18 am:

No surface area (wings) to aid in flight is why the Eagle makes a great spacecraft, but a lousy aircraft. That's a lot of vertical thrust needed to take off/stay aloft in an atmosphere! I guess Gerry Anderson just loved VTOL craft (Thunderbirds, Doppelganger/Journey to the Far Side of the Sun, Space: 1999).
Not that I'm complaining; it's a cool ship! Maybe the Eagle's anti-gravity screens/artificial gravity system was manipulated in some way to assist the craft during atmospheric flight...

By Duane Parsons on Friday, April 05, 2002 - 1:05 pm:

Do the Eagles run on nuclear power? I remember in one Starlog mag (looong time ago) something about the Eagle running on Hydrogen and having a range of 16 billion miles. It also had a 're-fresher' room and a small shower.

By Mike Brill on Friday, April 05, 2002 - 1:59 pm:

Peter: The Eagles would have to be capable of sustaining vertical thrust, of 1 G or greater, for a certain amount of time, in order to be able
to take off from an Earthlike planet. I suggest that you take a look at the spacecraft/starship information from the role-playing game "Traveller", including and especially Classic Traveller and MegaTraveller. They have a standard
design spacecraft called a Modular Cutter, which has interchangeable 30-ton modules for different purposes, with the total craft mass being 50 tons.
It's capable of landing and taking off from planets with atmospheres, and it can be armed with up to 2 lasers. The illustrations of Modular Cutters in the various versions of "Traveller" don't LOOK like Eagles, but how close could they come without risking a copyright infringement lawsuit?
Craig: It's been a while since I've seen the show, but I seem to remember in the pilot episode that John Koenig rode some other vehicle to an orbiting space station, then rode an Eagle from that space station to Moonbase Alpha. THEN, after Luna was blasted out of orbit, the Alphans used the Eagles - which were never intended for atmospheric operations - to visit somewhat-Earthlike planets. But, hey, at that point, WHAT ELSE HAVE THEY GOT?
As for Gerry Anderson's use of VTOL craft, which goes back as far as Fireball XL-5 (when returning to Space City), and maybe even as far back as Supercar, you have to ask the question: What do you want your vehicle to be capable of doing? If you just want something to go from commercial airport to commercial airport, fine; but for a LOT of missions, VTOL-and-hovering capability is actually NEEDED. As for operating on or around a "vacuum world" like Luna, you might not need VTOL capability when using an electromagnetic mass-driver for launching, but landing any way but vertically just is not a workable proposition.
Duane: Some years ago, there was an anti-nuclear-power political activist who used to proudly proclaim that the only physics he ever took was Ex-Lax. In other words, those people who oppose any and all use of nuclear power not only don't know what they're talking about, they're actually PROUD of not knowing what they're talking about.
Space: 1999 is predicated on the idea that, sometime after 1973 but before 1999, all of the political leaders and businessmen on Earth would have just stopped listening to the "Green Weenies" and started/resumed/increased using nuclear power.
Now, if you write out a description of everything that the Eagles were depicted as being capable of, and asked any college engineering department what would be necessary for a spacecraft to be able to do all these things, the general consensus would be that an Eagle would HAVE TO use some form of nuclear reaction, at least part of the time.

By Peter Stoller on Friday, April 05, 2002 - 3:51 pm:

Mike, John Koenig appears to have ridden that Eagle all the way from the Earth to the moon. It bypasses the spacedock from a viewable distance and does not transfer passengers there.

Duane, the Starlog writeup lists 4 nuclear fusion engines and compressed hydrogen as fuel. 16 billion miles range, too. There's a little airplane-style lavatory in the aft module. A shower may be included in the "camper" pod.

I suspect that when Brian Johnson developed the Eagle atmaspheric flight was not a consideration and only later was the Eagle expected to do so. I can suspend disbelief enough to let the thing visit planets.

By Douglas Nicol on Friday, April 05, 2002 - 4:36 pm:

The Baldassari blueprints also show the lavatory, right next to the fusion reactor. :)

I guess that's to encourage you not to wait around too long.

The blueprints also show how a moon buggy has been loaded into the module but doesn't really show how it has enough room to get out.

By ScottN on Friday, April 05, 2002 - 5:32 pm:

Yeah, it sure doesn't look like it was designed for atmospheric work. And if it was designed for space-space operations (or lunar-space operations), at most it had to deal with a 1/6g gravity well. I think you're right about the atmospheric operations being tacked on.

By tim gueguen on Friday, April 05, 2002 - 8:39 pm:

The weight given comes from "Space Brain." When they examine the metorite that turns out to be Wayland and Cousteau's crushed Eagle it weighs 318 tons. However the space foam that crushes the Eagle must weigh something as well to allow it to crush a spacecraft in such a fashion, so perhaps the Eagle itself doesn't actually weigh 318 tons.

By Peter Stoller on Friday, April 05, 2002 - 9:02 pm:

Helena takes a sample of the foam but it's not included in the list of conglomerate materials Prof. Bergman reads along with the quoted weight.
However, you could be right that the accepted figure of 328 tons is exaggerated. Geoffrey Mandel trimmed it to 238 tons, still pretty beefy.

By Jordan on Sunday, April 07, 2002 - 9:48 pm:

Re-watching the show on DVD, I keep noticing the brilliant use of that "corridor" set. It's far more rudimentary than its equivalent on the original Star Trek (which connected to the other sets). Watching as a ten-year-old, I always visualized a vast warren of interconnected tunnels. It never occurred to me once that I was just seeing the same room over and over, and that the room was shaped like a capital letter "I" to boot.

Is this OT? Should there be another board for "1999 set/model/prod. design discussion"?

By Craig Rohloff on Monday, April 08, 2002 - 7:59 am:

This board is for any Alpha topic, not just Eagles, and I presume you're referring to the Alpha sets (rooms and corridors).
If you've seen any (or most) Season 1 episodes, the Alpha sets there look like an actual base might...corridors are often different, several rooms exist, and even sets that were redressed to become other rooms were generally changed enough to look completely different.
Season 2 unfortunately lost most of the grandure and variety present in Season 1, especially in the Alpha sets. Frequently, the same room was seen over and over with minimal redressing, so I'm guessing that your post refers to Season 2 episodes. (Heck, even the Eagle set lost a whole section connecting the Command Module to the Passenger/Recon Module in Season 2! Claustrophobia, anyone?)
By the way, a plan of the stage for Season 2 appeared in Tim Heald's 'The Making of Space:1999,' and it looks like most of the Season 2 Alpha set would have fit into the same amount of space previously occupied by Season 1's Main Mission! Another by the way, the corridors on the Season 2 set actually did connect the few rooms that were there (according to the same plan.)

By Craig Rohloff on Monday, April 08, 2002 - 9:15 am:

Referring = refering.
That's what I get for trying to type in a hurry.

I re-read Jordan's post about Star Trek:TOS corridors being less rudimentary than S:99's corridors (I'm paraphrasing what was said in the post). I personally thought the opposite was true; the S:99 corridors looked solidly constructed, they had doors (some functional, some not, but all spaced far enough apart to look like there were rooms beyond them), and they were fully lit right there, not from stage lights hidden off-camera in the scaffolding. Which reminds me of another thing: Alpha's corridors and rooms all had ceilings! (ST:TOS at least did a clever job of hiding the lack of ceilings with support beams; it helped establish the "shipboard" feel.)
I just realized something (and this can serve as FYI for those who don't know about it): some of us who post to the S:99 boards recently had a discussion about S:99 sets (Alpha and otherwise) on the Sink:1999 board, which may be a better place to continue this topic. I think if we want to discuss various rooms on Alpha in a "realistic" context, rather than as setpieces, this board would be the place to do so. (Sorry for not catching that sooner!)

By Peter Stoller on Monday, April 08, 2002 - 9:23 am:

It's too bad that the Moonbase Alpha corridor set wasn't built in a gentle curve like the Enterprise corridor set; Alpha's curved buildings suggested some. The conjectural drawings of Alpha's internal layout (Starlog again) show only straight line corridors and no rooms. Has anybody seen better internal layout drawings? I read that some were fan-produced and distributed, but currently unavailable.

By Jordan on Monday, April 08, 2002 - 11:38 pm:

I was referring to the Season One corridor set, which was smaller and didn't connect to other sets (according to the Martin Wiley pages).

When I said "more rudimentary," I just meant complexity of the floor plan, and interconnections. I wasn't talking about the styling of the sets; I agree that S99 corridors looked far more realistic and functional, and detailed.

There's a '70s paperback called "The Making of Star Trek" that has a floor plan of the original Enterprise sets, from '66. The corridors snake all over the place, connecting all the sets except the bridge. Anyway, that's all I meant. Sorry for the confusion.

And, I read Craig's post and will henceforth discuss the topic on a different board.

By Duane Parsons on Tuesday, April 09, 2002 - 6:42 am:

Peter, thanks for the info. It has been over 25 years since I looked at any Eagle blue prints and forgot about the fusion engines. With the WC close to the reactor, I would not read my latest Moonbase newspaper while doing my 'business.' It would feel a bit odd (just how good is that shielding?)

By Craig Rohloff on Tuesday, April 09, 2002 - 8:15 am:

Why wasn't there a lavatory in the forward (service) module, as well as/instead of the aft (engineering) module? This would be prudent if there were no connecting module in place.
On the other hand... having one in only the aft section lends support to Peter Stoller's idea that the Eagles don't normally fly without a central module. Nifty how this stuff ends up working out, huh?

By Duane Parsons on Tuesday, April 09, 2002 - 10:25 am:

What would a Moonbase newspaper be called before and after breakaway? I know about the news service they had on their monitors. Would they have a paper recycling 'machine?' The computer puts out paper read outs for Kano to read, but where did he throw it away? Same thing about the water recycler (then again, maybe not a subject to think about?) Then what happens when it breaks down (no more showers)?

By Douglas Nicol on Tuesday, April 09, 2002 - 1:41 pm:

Well Duana, as I say, the WC is probably in that position to encourage you not to linger. :)

What about Eagle armaments. Season 1 seems to have a restricted number of armed Eagles, severely restricted as evidenced in War Games especially. I think 7 Eagles. Carters flight of three Eagles are sent up, and another three Combat Eagles (this phrase though was used in Metamorph first) were blown up either on the pads or having just lifted off.
Koenig then ask maintainence "how long it will taake to get the last laser equipped Eagle off this rock"
The weapons seem to change in Season 1 as well. In War games a continuous beam just under the nose is the main Eagle weapon, in Black Sun, when testing the shield, the Eagle Carter uses seems to have more of a 'pulse' effect weapon.
Season 2 brought new realms of possibility in. The Metamorph referred to 'Combat Eagles', supposedly purpose built or modified Eagles that I assume aren't just better armed but maybe even better armoured. More Eagles seem to be armed as standard though this I assume can be assummed to be from lessons learnt 'the hard way' and salvage of alien technology.
Devils Moon has a remote gun appearing from the top of the Eagles structural spine.
Other measures seemingly incorporated include an escape hatch in the floor.

By Craig Rohloff on Wednesday, May 01, 2002 - 7:40 am:

Here goes something on Eagle launch pads I've come up with...
When the lift bearing an Eagle descends to the underground hanger (actually, a staging area where it can be carried by a crane to the hanger), presumably a hatch covers the open shaft in oerder to prevent the air from leaking out of the hanger. Hold on, everyone, I know what you're going to say... S2's "Space Warp" and "The Dorcons" show a hatch cover extending from the edges of the lift shaft (viewed from the bottom of the shaft looking up). The biggest problem I have with that is that the shape of the launch pad doesn't allow such retractable covers to exist! They're too big to fit when retracted.
For realism's sake, and to not contradict every other episode besides "SW" and "TD," I figure the hatch cover extends from some point underground to seal the lift shaft. This would allow less space within the shaft to have to be repressurized, and would clearly indicate to an approaching Eagle that the launch pad was not currently usable for landing. I suspect that the shaft cover may be less rigid than the actual landing platform, since it needn't bear the full take-off/landing thrust of an Eagle. Both the underground hatch and the hatch being less rigid are given some support by the scene in S1's "The Last Sunset," where a bunch of debris is flung upward out of the lift shaft as the air burst caused by the Ariel Probe jets out to the lunar surface.
I have some ideas for the crane that lifts the Eagle as well, but I'll save that for another post. (Yes, the infamous "crane throught the doorframe" scene in "Space Warp" has to be ignored completely for the sake of realism!)

By Craig Rohloff on Thursday, May 09, 2002 - 8:05 am:

Eagle hangers...
I always liked the triangle-patterned walls of the underground hangers, but what purpose did the triangles serve? I imagine they acted as baffles to muffle echoes that would occur in such a vast place. We only see them from relatively far away, so one could imagine that up close, each triangle is textured (rather than smooth as the model appears) somewhat roughly to help diminish sounds/echoes.
From a modelling standpoint, I wonder if the design was intentionally chosen for its similarity to a honeycomb, since the Eagles themselves are often described by many (including Brian Johnson) as insect-like.
Of course, in keeping with the bird metaphor, the hangers could be called 'Eagle Nests.'

By Peter Stoller on Tuesday, July 02, 2002 - 11:14 pm:

It's likely the resident Eagle pilots formed a kind of officer's club they called "The Eagle"s Nest". Or perhaps it was just a nickname for the Reconnaisance section's offices overlooking the main Eagle hangar (the room concerned with Meta probe plans in "Breakaway".)

By Peter Stoller on Tuesday, July 02, 2002 - 11:31 pm:

All kinds of noble meanings have been offically ascribed to the numerous abstract patches and stickers affixed to Alphan costumes and property, usually having to do with past space missions and service, the crest of the Lunar authorities and such.

I happen to prefer the idea that they're simply the corporate logos of sponsors and contractors in the space business who've invested in Moonbase Alpha. They built the place and its installations and equiptment and provided support for moonbase operations, and proceeded to put their labels on lots of things--even the moonbase pyjamas!

That's kind of how things have been going in RL aerospace business.

By Douglas Nicol on Friday, July 05, 2002 - 4:39 pm:

Has anyone ever seen the fan project that was on the net written by a guy called Martin J Willey?

He called his project "Space:1999:The Continuity Guide" and it was a brave attempt at a technical manual/Encyclopedia of sorts. It was on the net for some time but I don't know if its available any longer?

Is it me, or in Starship Troopers, did the base that Carmens shuttle took off from, when she started training on the Roger Young look a lot like Alpha?

By CR on Friday, July 05, 2002 - 9:24 pm:

The Continuity Guide is comprehensive and, IMO, awesome. As far as I know, it's still out there, but I've had so many connection problems of late, I can't confirm that it's still out there. It's part of a bigger site called "The Catacombs," which I know is still up.

By Douglas Nicol on Saturday, July 06, 2002 - 11:42 am:

I've seen it again, its somewhere on the site, I think it's part of the Catacombs section.

By Peter Stoller on Saturday, July 06, 2002 - 9:31 pm:

It's definitely still out there. Here's the link again:

By tim gueguen on Monday, July 08, 2002 - 9:48 pm:

The Catacombs is an invaluable reference to the series. I don't know how many times I've looked at the episode transcripts to find specific bits of dialogue or plot points.

By CR on Tuesday, July 09, 2002 - 11:52 am:

Another good site for Alpha tech-heads is Roberto Baldassari's Transporter Eagle Pages. Sorry I don't have the link, but it can be reached through Space:

By Alice on Saturday, September 07, 2002 - 5:56 am:

Ummm, am I just being unobservant or is there really nowhere to make comments on the cast/characters? I really wanted to make sure people knew about Tony Anholt, but couldn't find anywhere to put it.

Unless nobody DOES care?

By CR on Monday, September 09, 2002 - 12:05 pm:

Ask the moderator to make a new board, Alice; you should be able to do so on the main board for Space: 1999, if the e-mail link still works. I'm surprised no one brought it up sooner, since many other shows have a similar board.
By the way, I was shocked to hear about Tony Anholt's death. Not that he was really old by today's standards, but it just drives home how easy it is to picture all the actors & actresses as still young (when watching the episodes), at least until something like this happens.

By Alice on Tuesday, September 10, 2002 - 6:31 am:

Ummm, Mr Moderator, I tried to send you an email about setting up a cast and characters board, but the mail has been returned.

Please can we have a cast and character board for Space:1999?

Thank you very much, Alice

PS, CR, I saw a picture of Tony from a year or so ago and was a bit shocked by his appearance, but this could just be that I had been watching 'Howards' Way' and that is over 10 years ago...

By Douglas Nicol on Tuesday, September 10, 2002 - 12:05 pm:

Regarding the point brought up WAY earlier on this about stun guns, one episode had all four barrels firing at once. I think it was "All that Glisters" to affect the rock, or maybe even "The Exiles".

By CR on Wednesday, September 11, 2002 - 11:57 am:

I think the Tech Manual published by Starlog in the 1970's mentions that all four barrels could be fired at once, obviously in defference to the episode that occurs in... I don't have my copy handy, though.
Alice (and anyone else interested)... until a cast & Character board gets made, we could always discuss c & c on the Sink: 1999 board, which is the "catch-all" category for miscellaneous stuff. Just FYI.

By Todd Pence on Wednesday, September 11, 2002 - 3:26 pm:

The people have spoken and your humble moderator hears and obeys! I'll get up a C & C board possibly today, definitely sometime this week. Actually, this is something that I've thought about during the earliest days of this board, but for some reason never got around to.

By Todd Pence on Wednesday, September 11, 2002 - 3:29 pm:

P.S. Alice, I apologize deeply for not seeing and responding to your post more quickly. The e-mail address linked to my nitcentral one has been inactive for some time. If you or anyone else ever needs to e-mail me about anything I can currently be reached at

By CR on Wednesday, September 18, 2002 - 11:44 am:

Many thanks for those boards, Todd!

By Todd Pence on Wednesday, September 18, 2002 - 4:09 pm:

Many you're welcomes.

By CR on Tuesday, October 29, 2002 - 10:19 am:

Hey, is anyone else having trouble finding The Catacombs, or is it just my system? I can't link to it from anywhere, nor open it when I do general (or specific, for that matter) searches. This has been going on for a couple of days now.

By Peter Stoller on Wednesday, October 30, 2002 - 9:01 pm:

This link to The catacombs seems to be working just fine for me; I just tried it.

By CR on Thursday, October 31, 2002 - 7:22 am:

Yeah, it's back up for me now, too. Sorry to have wasted space about it!

By Sophie on Sunday, January 05, 2003 - 5:33 am:

Main Mission is apparently located in the tower structure near the middle of the base. (It looks roughly like a box on top of a cylinder.)

Has anyone ever seen stairs leading up to it from the level of the other surface installations?

By CR on Sunday, January 05, 2003 - 7:11 am:

Ah, back to "real" tech stuff!

Main Mission is indeed atop the pedestal at the center of Moonbase Alpha; the structure is referred to as Main Mission Tower in official blueprints from the Technical Manual Starlog published in the 1970's.
Main Mission itself doesn't fill the entire box-like structure at the top of the pedestal, but rather a corner of it, with the rest of the 'box' containing offices and other smaller rooms. Lifts (elevators) allow personnel to travel to the main and lower levels of the base, though emergency stairwells are also present. (I'd surmised most of this on my own a few years ago before I'd seen the Tech Manual, but it was nice to have it confirmed. I don't know if the model builders ever gave the whole thing such consideration when originally building the model, though!)

By CR on Sunday, January 05, 2003 - 7:24 am:

Mind you, not all of the Tech Manual's blueprints were 100% accurate, but they generally look good and work well wtih what was seen on screen. Here are a couple links so you can check out what I meant about Main Mission...
Main Mission Tower floorplans
Main Mission Tower elevations

By CR on Sunday, January 05, 2003 - 7:29 am:

OK, the links didn't hold. Sorry, everyone.

Go to the Catacombs>Merchandise Guide>Books and scroll down to Moonbase Alpha Technical Notebook. In that area, click on Cybermuseum to get a list of each page in the notebook. Look for "Level G" and "Main Mission Elevations."

By Todd Pence on Sunday, January 05, 2003 - 10:32 am:

I moved the parts of this discussion relative to the toy collectibles over to the sink, as per request.

By CR on Monday, January 06, 2003 - 7:53 am:

Thanks, Todd. :)

I'm going to try to post a link to the Catacombs Books page I mentioned above, so all anyone'll have to do is scroll to the Tech Notebook and click on Cybermuseum...

Catacombs Merchandise, Books

By CR on Monday, January 06, 2003 - 7:54 am:

And that one seems to have worked!

By CR on Monday, January 06, 2003 - 8:18 am:

On one of the posts that got moved to the Sink, Douglas Nicol suggested subdividing the Alpha Technical Section board a bit. I then suggested possibly following the old Starlog Moonbase Alpha Technical Notebook "chapter" structure, providing it doesn't take up too much space or waste the Moderator's time!
Anyway, here's the breakdown:
1) Alpha, external and internal
2) Hardware, including weapons
3) Uniforms
4) No designation, possibly would have been Earth Spacecraft
5) No designation, possibly Alien Spacecraft
6) Profiles (character descriptions...we already have a board for this)
7) Timeline
8) Episode Guide (obviously, we have boards for this, too!)


By Douglas Nicol on Monday, January 06, 2003 - 3:47 pm:

That seems like a good one. There's that many subjects in the one thread now.

By CR on Tuesday, January 07, 2003 - 8:42 am:

Roberto Baldassari made his own set of Alpha plans based on the Tech Notebook, but his are more detailed (and in color). Here is a link:
Baldassari Alpha Plans
Note: you'll need Acrobat Reader to get the actual plans (as only thumbnails appear on the page), but there's a link there so you can download it free.

The rest of Roberto's "Transporter Eagle Pages" is worth checking out, too!
Transporter Eagle Pages

By Samuel Klein on Monday, June 02, 2003 - 2:08 pm:

I'd like to make a few words about continuity and small details. They've been touched on by some of you above but I have a couple of points to make of my own.

The biggest peeve I have with the series was the inability of the model makers to come up with shots of the base from 'amidst the buildings' povs that look at all like they are the same base we see from a distance.

From a distance:Wheel-shaped base, buildings on curves, some shaped like circle-wedges, and the only part projecting up was the Main Mission tower at the hub. Close up: nothing but square buildings seemingly placed at random about a tower that resembled MM but didn't seem to relate to the rest of the layout. And some of them sprouted little square towers of thier own!

Would it have killed these people to make close up shots that resembled the distant angles?

And the launch pads which sometimes sprouted up in the middle of the base! Aaaargh!

Another commenter touched on the corridors and someone made the cogent point that one would expect at least some of the corridors to gently curve, as the corridors of the Enterprise did in ST. That made sense; straight corridors along the circuferential lines cause too many unusable acute room corners that can't be used by anyone for anything.

Regardless of whatever else was dodgy this came as close as anything to ruining the series for me. When the closeups don't match the wide views it becomes that much harder to keep the sense of continuity that makes the images on screen knit together into a coherent whole. The seamless unity isn't there. Instead of letting myself sink into a sense of really being there, I'm cringing just a little and going 'gosh, if they had paid attention to what they were detailing, it would have had a curve there....'

The sad part is that the modelmaking on 1999 was really first-class, as many have acknowledged. This inattention to unity of detail threatened to make all that work pretty much meaningless.

As you can tell, this has been bothering me for a few years now. Thanks for a place to vent.

Sam Klein
(who has the drafting skillz and has often thought about designing plans that would reflect what the inside of Alpha ought really to have looked like)

By CR on Thursday, June 05, 2003 - 7:40 am:

Re: launch pads in the middle of the base... This became especially apparent in Season 2, along with the proliferation of the round observation buildings (orignally seen in "Breakaway" as the NDA2 observation building and "Force of Life" as a tracking station). The things sprouted up like mushrooms all over the base!
Another continuity error about Alpha buildings is the disappearing embarkation building on the launch pads. It's the trapezoid-shaped part of the launch pad terminal from which the boarding tube extends. On most long shots of the base (and obviously the moonbase model itself), this structure (along with the boarding tube) is missing.

By Peter Stoller on Friday, June 06, 2003 - 10:40 pm:

I hear you, Sam. Even the cross-shaped Main Mission tower was disproportionate between the tabletop miniature base and the larger scale Alpha buildings version. Getting the FX shots done on a short schedule probably contributed to the discrepancies; matching the proportions of the image drawn on the storyboard mattered most.

By CR on Saturday, June 07, 2003 - 8:13 am:

"Tabletop miniature..."
That's one big table, and one big "miniature," given the model was something like ten feet across! :)

By Peter Stoller on Saturday, June 07, 2003 - 9:22 am:

It was twelve feet across. (wink wink) I say tabletop because it was rigged some distance off the floor to be lit and photographed at a shallow angle.

It's been brought up before, but not on this page, how Moonbase Alpha appears to be a near copy of the Clavius moonbase in 2001: A Space Oddysey with the radially-patterned surface buildings. Portions of that may have been constructed in miniature for the Aries 1B landing sequence, but I suspect the wider view is a Bob McCall painting.

The Eagle's design began based on the 2001 moonbus, both vaguely inpsired by the body plan of a grasshopper. From there the Eagle became longer and wider with the familiar modular design and outboard engines.

By CR on Saturday, June 07, 2003 - 1:04 pm:

Ten, twelve... picky, picky! I read somewhere that the model could be hoisted up by chains and stored out of the way above the stage floor. I wouldn't want those chains to give way while I was under there!
I thought one of us brought up the following, so sorry if it's redundant: Brian Johnson did some uncredited work on 2001: A Space Odyssey, so the design similarity is understandable. It also makes sense, since S99 was sort of a 2001 for tv.

By D.K. Henderson on Saturday, June 07, 2003 - 7:14 pm:

I think perhaps it's time to archive this section (if that's the phrase I'm looking for) and start fresh. It took me forever to scroll down here!

By ScottN, Emulating Butch the K Man on Saturday, June 07, 2003 - 7:53 pm:

Moderator, this board is up to 135K

By CR on Monday, June 09, 2003 - 11:26 am:

Butch, the K man, and ScottN, his trusty sidekick?

By ScottN on Monday, June 09, 2003 - 1:25 pm:

You know, maybe I should pick up a nickname...

"ScottN the N Man"

Nope, doesn't work. Bummer.

By CR on Wednesday, June 11, 2003 - 12:59 pm:

Maybe "The Board Killer." You know, that whole Death thing...
Naw, nevermind.

By DEATH on Wednesday, June 11, 2003 - 3:35 pm:


By One who dares to laugh in the face of Death on Saturday, June 14, 2003 - 10:38 am:

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

By CR on Sunday, August 17, 2003 - 1:56 pm:

Before a new board gets created, one last observation... Credit for this goes to a board at Space:, where a list of real-life moon data appears, followed by some observations about Moonbase Alpha and the moon from S99. I can't believe I didn't think of this one myself...
Anyway, as we all should know, lack of an atmosphere on the moon means that any mark made on the regolith (lunar soil) is pretty much there to stay, unless disturbed by some outside force. So why did the ground around Moonbase Alpha look virtually pristine? Obviously, such a major construction sould have left tons of vehicle tracks and construction astronaut footprints all around the moonbase, but observations show nearly undisturbed regolith going right up to the various buildings of the base.
The suggestion Space: offered was that perhaps crushed rock from the excavation of Alpha's underground structures was scattered around the base after construction was completed. This is a simple yet understandable solution, and covers a few things at once: it explains the apparent condition of the soil, it explains where all the excavated material went, and it shows a very human concern for aesthetics. (The moon would be desolate enough to live on for a typical (pre-Breakaway) duty tour; it would be even more unbearable looking out at scarred and tracked-up construction remains.)
Sounds good to me, anyway, so I thought I'd share the info.

By Peter Stoller on Sunday, August 17, 2003 - 10:19 pm:

You mean they didn't just pour down plaster and fuller's earth, then drop large ball-bearings into it as it set up?

(ducks his head as CR throws a moonrock)

By CR on Monday, August 18, 2003 - 8:56 am:

Duck! :O

By Duck on Monday, August 18, 2003 - 1:56 pm:


By Will on Thursday, October 16, 2003 - 10:33 am:

Speaking of ducks...
I don't think anybody on Alpha will be eating duck anytime soon, or chicken, or steak. Once they were blown out of orbit, the Alphans became reluctant vegetarians, because if there had been farms with livestock on the base, then it's never, ever been mentioned during any damage report. And I thought the castaways of Giligan's Island had it bad; try and multiple those 7 people by 44, and you'd have a base packed with people depressed that they won't have a Big Mac, chicken wings, or turkey dinner for a long time.

By Chris Todaro on Friday, October 17, 2003 - 11:58 am:

They do have funky mushrooms by the bushel, though! :)

By Douglas Nicol on Saturday, December 06, 2003 - 11:21 am:

It's not exactly Nitty Gritty tech details, but has anyone seen the Futurama episode "Where no Fan has gone Before". The ship that fires the 79 episodes of the original Star Trek series onto a barren planet looks remarkably like an Eagle. :)

By ScottN on Saturday, December 06, 2003 - 12:20 pm:

Yes, Douglas, I commented on that over on the Futurama board for that ep.

By Douglas Nicol on Saturday, December 06, 2003 - 3:13 pm:

Ah, so I see.

I remember seeing an Eagle elsewhere. Does anyone from the UK on these boards remember the Starblazer series of comics. They were the size of the Commando comics and the old DC Digest issues and were about 66 pages long. They were Sci-Fi and latterly Fantasy themed and ran for 10 years. There was an Eagle in one their issues. :)

By CR on Tuesday, March 09, 2004 - 11:17 am:

As long as this board's still open, here's a quick description of how I think the overhead crane could carry an Eagle from the descended lift pad into the hanger...
Remember my idea about a lift shaft cover, back in May 2002? (Scroll up.) I figure that the covers retract into the shaft walls at a point underground, so there isn't so much of the shaft that needs to be pressurized once the cover's in place. I also figure that the overhead crane could be waiting by near the cover, and connect to tracks built into the cover's bottom side.
OK, that explains how the crane gets to the Eagle to move it off of the descended lift. How does it get through the wall? (See "Space Warp.")
Well, in Season 1 at least, the doors in the hangers all have the same triangle-baffle thingies, and are even shaped like a triangle (see "Earthbound," "The Last Sunset," "The Last Enemy" & "Space Brain"), and like a trapezoid (seen way in the background of the hanger shots in "Breakaway" & "Guardian of Piri"). The triangular doorway clearly retracts upward into the wall, and is fairly small; an Eagle wouldn't be able to squeeze through at ground level, let alone when being carried aloft.
But what of the trapezoidal door? I conjecture that it could split vertically in the middle, as does a thin vertical slot in the wall above the middle of the door; each half then slides sideways to allow the crane to pass through the vertical slot, while the Eagle goes through the doorway.
I realize close examination of the trapezoid doesn't show a vertical slot above it, and in fact the trapezoid looks more like a recess in the wall than an open doorway, but it's the best I can come up with that fits what we see onscreen. (The trapezoid is very far away in those shots, after all.)

By CR on Tuesday, March 09, 2004 - 12:17 pm:

Here are some links to various hanger pics, all at The Catacombs:
"Breakaway" hanger
"Guardian of Piri" hanger 1 and "GoP" hanger 2
"Earthbound" hanger and triangle door 1 and triangle door 2
"The Last Sunset" hanger and lift shaft cover debris
"The Last Enemy" triangle door looking into staging area from hanger
A beautiful still shot exists in the Japanese guidebook ITC Mecha Graffiti, but I don't have a direct link. It can be found at The Catacombs, but you'll have to start at The Catacombs main page and select Cybermuseum (it's currently on the right hand side of the main page), then select The Wright Collectibles Room, scroll down about 3/4 of the way and find The Chris Potter Collection. In there, select Eagle Hanger. Catacombs main page

Notice in the "Earthbound" & "The Last Sunset" images the ceiling has partitions made of those traingle baffle units that comprise the walls. Obviously, the overhead cranes can go between them, but how'd it get around them? I figure that the partitions may not extend all the way to the walls, and the cranes can travel along the walls until reaching a particular spot between the partitions, then rotate on a turntable-like device (think of a railroad locomotive roundhouse, but mounted to the ceiling) to connect with tracks running between the partitions.
Yes, some of the photos show the partitions connecting with the walls, so my idea isn't canon. But it could work on a real Alpha hanger. (Think I've spent way too much time thinking about this whole thing? Someday, I'll finish a scale model I've been working on now and then, which will incorporate all of these ideas!)

By Mark on Thursday, March 11, 2004 - 5:50 pm:

The Metamorph includes a nice low angle shot of a booster being added to the lab pod Eagle ( and also a clear view of the ceiling). The ceiling completely lacks any tracks necessary for the rails to carry the Eagles ( as is so prominently shown in "Space Warp").
One thing nice about the "Space Warp" hangar scenes; it only uses full size Eagle models and not cut-outs as in the "Breakaway" hangar scenes.
"Breakaway" did include a nice shot of Alan in front of a window (with the hangar rear-screen projected behind him). I wish such shots would have used in other episodes. "Space Warp" sure would have been better if Alan and Helena were looking out a window with a view of the hangar (and not the year one Main Mission balcony).

By CR on Friday, March 12, 2004 - 7:17 am:

The Metamorph includes a nice low angle shot of a booster being added to the lab pod Eagle ( and also a clear view of the ceiling). The ceiling completely lacks any tracks necessary for the rails to carry the Eagles... Mark

Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention that prominent nit! Fortunately, just about every other episode (in Season 1 at least) doesn't show the ceiling in such detail! In my posts above, I extrapolated from what was onscreen, filling in gaps (and ignoring some nits) to make the hangers seem real in my mind.

By Mark on Thursday, March 18, 2004 - 1:08 pm:

Many don't realise that the Eagles had a detention area. "A Matter of Balance" states that Shermeen was taken along on all Alphans' planetary expeditions. Apparently, she was hidden behind that door at the back of the passenger pod (a bathroom is picture in Eagle blueprints). Life ain't fun when one is always confined to the toilet.
Maybe, poor Shermeen appeared a bit air-headed because of the fumes!

By Douglas Nicol on Thursday, March 18, 2004 - 3:20 pm:

Considering the bathroom is near the Eagles reactor in the same blueprints, it's an incentive not to linger. :)

By Mark on Monday, March 22, 2004 - 4:56 pm:

The red fuel cannisters delivered to the Eagles by other 'refueling' Eagles look about the size of fire extinguishers.
Surely, there's enough storage space on an Eagle for some extra fuel cannisters. Wouldn't it be enormously impractical to need refueling Eagles?

By CR on Tuesday, May 04, 2004 - 7:54 am:

Hey, Alpha tech-heads, I found a new site (new to me, at least) dealing with signs & displays used in and around Alpha & and patches for its uniforms. From the important to the mundane, it covers little details that would have subtly enhanced the verisimilitude of the sets. Inspired in part by some of the displays & patches at Roberto Baldassari's Transporter Eagle Page, Alpha Terminal 15 is very slick-looking and has plenty of graphics that would fit perfectly within Kieth Wilson's set designs. Also visible are some incredible renderings of the various planets encountered by the runaway moon, as they might appear in real life. (A nice surprise is the terraformed moon from "The Last Sunset." Plato crater is just visible through the cloud cover near the top of the moon.)
Entering the site will close your currently open browser window, but it's worth taking a look.

By MD, Hpool on Thursday, November 25, 2004 - 5:11 am:

To Will, who posted a message as long ago as Thursady October 16th 2003 (Apologies for the delay, I've just discovered this strand).

Regarding the Alphans becoming vegeterarians, isn't there a series 2 episode where we see a parrot somewhere on Alpha? Possibly The Exiles or The Mark of Archanon. If, at this stage, livestock is being maintained on Alpha, maybe being a veggie is optional.

While I think about it, although in both series we rarely if at all, apart from what I've just mentioned, see any livestock, are any animals (pets, for example) kept on Alpha? If so, and we just don't see any animals, perhaps it explains how Maya knows how to transform into Earth animals.

By tim gueguen on Thursday, November 25, 2004 - 10:10 am:

But Maya turns into Earth animals in "The Metamorph." Or at the very least animals identical to Earth animals.

By MD, Hpool on Friday, November 26, 2004 - 7:10 am:

Perhaps Mentor tapped into Alpha's computers before they became aware of Psychon's existence? Or if there is/was livestock on Alpha as I suggested that we don't see, his instruments saw them?

By Peter Stoller on Thursday, December 16, 2004 - 8:32 pm:

Livestock on Alpha? We know they had real green plants in spots, so some animals too wasn't impossible, but I would guess only some lab specimens, nothing higher than rodents and small birds. A parrot? Someone with pull could sneak that onto the base after a visit to Earth. No other pets, not unless some of the staff took caged lab animals to their living quarters. I don't think an animal protein diet is available to the Alphans unless someone gets creative with small things, bugs or worms. I could see a beehive or two for honey.

As for Maya's repertoire of turning into terran animals, Mentor's biological computer Psyche already had knowledge of Earth animals from any number of alien brains, taken from Alpha's computer, or snatched from the minds of some brain-drained Alphans.

By Curious on Saturday, December 18, 2004 - 7:18 am:

For protein sources, "The Testament of Arkadia" shows that there is a protein store on Alpha. This raises other questions. Where those proteins brought to Alpha from Earth before the breakaway (and are in storeage)? The Alphans could also grow some plant sources of protein such as soybeans.

Mentor indicates that he's done some observation of Alphans, to him, they seem similar but not as advanced. As for the creatures Maya transformed into on Psychon, I wonder if Johnny Byrne wrote it that way originally. The lion Maya transformed into was imposing, but that gorilla suit at the end was laughable.

By Anonymous on Friday, January 21, 2005 - 1:00 pm:

If you want to walk the interiors of MBA try the game Payne 1999 on So far "only" level J has been done. Have fun.

By Douglas Nicol on Friday, February 11, 2005 - 7:43 am:

Incidentally, I contribute to a Sci-Fi Database which posters from have started. It's purely a fan based project and is meant to be fairly light hearted but I've done some of the initial Space:1999 entries. If anyone's interested in contributing, here's the link.

Or you can at least give an opinion.

By Peter Stoler on Monday, April 11, 2005 - 5:17 pm:

Speculation: How many people is Moonbase Alpha designed to support? The place is a sprawling complex of low-rise buildings, a very big place for 300+ people. It never looked quite crowded; it often looked sparsely populated and lonely.

By Mark V Thomas on Saturday, April 16, 2005 - 8:13 pm:

I would argue over 1,000 people myself...
(I believe that the base was initally designed to house more than the 311 present, i.e they're a "skeleton" staff, but for some reason, possibly fianicial, the full staff compliment was never reached.
If this is so, then were there, parts of Alpha
effectively "mothballed" to save on costs...?).

By Peter Stoller on Monday, April 18, 2005 - 5:33 pm:

The real problem faced here is the repeated statements to the effect that Alpha's life support capacity is already nearly full. This probably came out of economic reasons, reflecting an austere budgeting of resources to maintain self-sufficiency indefinitey. The "mothballing" suggested sounds entirely likely, several sections of the base being shut down to conserve resources. That eventually happened to Main Mission and probably much of the tower building that housed it.
There's undoubtedly a temporary staff of specialists present for whatever space missions were currently in progress, so several of the staff were likely assigned to the Meta mission. That's in addition to the rotating tour-of-duty jobs that require full-time staffing: nuclear waste disposal, all the support and custodial services necessary for a functioning base and so on. Also, a large handful of people died in the breakaway disaster.

By Douglas Nicol on Wednesday, April 20, 2005 - 1:11 pm:

It never mentions how many people died in the Breakaway. The only mention was in the Alien Attack botch job tape where the Lunar Commission guys just vaguely say "There were many casualties".

The news cast that is present in all episodes does mention I believe 311 people, and a later episode featuring a report by Dr Russell states that their population stays static at a figure round about 296.

By tim gueguen on Tuesday, May 03, 2005 - 9:16 pm:

The population count is alway iffy. Kano comments at the end of "Matter of Life and Death" imply Alpha's population at the time is 360. Helena states at the beginning of "The Metamorph" that the population of Alpha is 297. The population count actually goes up during year 2, being listed as 298 in "Devil's Planet," which given the casualties in year 2 implies some children have been born.

For a while now I've been wondering if the 311 count would be sufficient to run Alpha. After all some sections, such as the nuclear generator areas, need to be staffed 24/7. Assuming two control room techs per reactor and 8 hour shifts that accounts for 18 people per 24 hours alone, and of course no one is going to work 7 days a week prior to breakaway, implying the need for even more personnel. And thats just one department. How many people are on the cleaning, food preparation, and laundry/seamstress staffs? You need a whole bunch of folks even before you consider the personnel counts for the scientific staff, Eagle pilots and ground crews, and so on.

By Harry Paratestes on Tuesday, May 31, 2005 - 11:08 am:

is there a Alpha Academy to train/replace extras who are continually blown out airlocks, strangled by rubber monsters, go insane, fly Eagles into strange space phenomena, etc?

By Mark V Thomas on Wednesday, June 01, 2005 - 10:48 am:

Re:Tim Gueguen's last comment
This implies that there is a very high degree of automation in Moonbase Alpha (possibly run by the Main Computer system)....
If this is true, then why does the robot Brian, from the season 2 episode Brian's Brain, inspire such curisoity from the Alphans (apart from the obvious "what exactly did happen to the rest of the expedition, Brian...?")...?

By Phill Taylor on Wednesday, November 02, 2005 - 9:39 am:

Wouldn't the eagles have some kind of anti gravity lift system for atmospheric flight. As they are fitted with artificial gravity then ag lifters would be an offshoot of this technology. As these systems would be heavy wouldn't this explain the eagles themselves being much heavier than would seem normal for a craft this size.

By ScottN on Wednesday, November 02, 2005 - 1:21 pm:

That would also explain the apparent Earth-normal gravity inside Alpha, while they seem to have Lunar gravity outside.

By CR on Wednesday, November 02, 2005 - 11:18 pm:

I may have mentioned something along these lines before, but I haven't the time to re-read every board to find out where...
Re: artificial gravity inside Alpha... The ring of "gravity towers" around the base create the Earth-normal gravity (somehow). These towers were modified to allow the Bergman Shield (force field) to protect Alpha during it's trip through the Black Sun. Apparently, controls allow sections of the interior to have the gravity level adjusted as necessary, as evidenced in Bergman's comment in "Space Brain" about having to "turn the gravity all the way down" just to get the meteorite (the crushed Eagle 1) into the examination lab.
Don't know how relevant all this is to the last couple of posts, but I thought I'd mention that ag was not only considered a part of Alphan tech, it was actually mentioned on-screen a couple of times.

I recall some online debate about ag for use in Eagle flight on one of the old Online Alpha archives... it's been a few years since I read any of those, but if I can come across them, I'll try to summarize what I find. (Might take a while, though, as I don't really have time for that, either. Does anyone else recall what I'm talking about?)

Ooo, I just remembered something else about Eagle ag systems! In "Earthbound," when the Alphans first enter the Kaldorian Sleeper Ship, Kano reports to them that there's no atmosphere and only lunar gravity aboard. After Paul in Main Mission links to the Eagle's onboard systems, the atmosphere and Earth-normal gravity of the Eagle spread to the Kaldorian vessel. (Actually, it was the Eagle pod, as the main spacecraft had returned to Alpha. I presume that had the entire Eagle been on-site, the Eagle controls in the command module would have been used instead of a relay from Alpha. In any event, least the episode writers had the idea of showing Alphan tech being used to make an alien place more hospitable for humans.)

By Phill Taylor on Thursday, November 03, 2005 - 12:24 pm:

Just a few musings about the Eagles;
I think they may operate by negating the weight of the eagle which would mean that only small directional forces would be needed to steer the ship. Sensors in the landing gear would detirmine the ships weight and would set the AG feild level to negate the weight. The more weight, the more power required. This would give a theoretical weight limit. Indeed, there may even be safety limits to stop a vastly overloaded eagle form taking off.

I wonder if this ag feild could have contributed to the chain reaction which blew the moon out of orbit. If I remember correctly Area 1 was used as a navigational point for flights to area 2. That would seem to be a lot of traffic flying over both areas.Who knows what effect these fields pressing down on the storage areas may have had.May there have been an unforseen cumulative effect. As I say, just a thought.

By Phill Taylor on Thursday, November 03, 2005 - 3:02 pm:

NOTE - Repost due to keyboard errors on last post.

Just a few musings about the anti gravity system on the Eagles;

I think they may operate by negating the weight of the eagle which would mean that only small directional forces would be needed to steer the ship. Sensors in the landing gear would detirmine the ships weight and would set the AG field level to negate the weight. The more weight, the more power required. This would give a theoretical weight limit and not some infinite cargo limit. Indeed, there may even be safety limits to stop a vastly overloaded eagle form taking off.

I wonder if this ag field could have contributed to the chain reaction which blew the moon out of orbit. If I remember correctly Area 1 was used as a navigational point for flights to area 2. That would seem to be a lot of traffic flying over both areas.Who knows what effect these fields pressing down on the storage areas may have had.May there have been an unforseen cumulative effect. As I say, just a thought.

By Peter Stoller on Sunday, November 06, 2005 - 7:54 pm:

As far as the Eagles being very heavy goes, since I first asked why that's so I've come to think that the high tonnage figure is misleading. It's the weight of the recovered meteor, not the weight of an intact Eagle. The crushing agent that encrusts the meteor is present in the 328 ton mass, the stuff that Bergman explains gains incredible weight and density. It's not included in the list of constituents probably because computer was unable to identify the stuff (unknown elements, or simply a blank reading.)

By Bob L on Thursday, June 08, 2006 - 10:11 pm:

I always got the impression that Moonbase Alpha was designed (as a tv prop, not in "reality", if you catch my drift) as strictly a moonbase, not as a launch pad for planetary missions. I can picture Brian Johnson getting the assignment of designing a moonbase as a part of a series proposal for a new tv series, not really intending to be mindful of, say, what kind of spaceships wree used. Lucky for the Alphans that he didn't incorporate something along the lines of those red re-entry ships like they used in U.F.O.! Any planetary reconnaisance missions would be a one-way trip!
But in a way, this makes for a realistic-type set-up: the eagles aren't really designed as atmospheric craft, so they make do with what they have, as one poster way up yonder on the page said. There's actually proof of it in the scripts, which surprisingly I've never seen anyone, anywhere, ever mention: what's the first thing Koenig always says to Alan after landing on a planet? Never other than, "Nice touchdown, Alan.". He does this every every time, if I'm not mistaken. He never says it after landing at the base, so I assume that that feat is thought of more as business as usual, ho-hum drudgery. I can't imagine anything other than that said, actually, without it becoming entwined, dragon-tentacle-like, within the plot itself. "Nice touchdown, Alan, considering that these Eagles weren't really designed for atmospheric entry" might tend to distract from the story at hand, not to mention it sounding as if it's written for a radio show!
Another interesting thing about this show is how opposite it was to Star Trek in terms of interacting with alien life. Whereas Kirk and Co. would always have to tip-toe around the Prime Directive (in word if not in deed!), Koenig and Co. were always sticking their noses into everything they found! I always thought it would have been interesting to have had an episode in Which the Alphans had to try and conceal their presence on the moon from someone, for some reason.
Sorry I got off-subject!

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