September 13th 1999 was, as Space:1999 itself reminded us during the opening titles of its first season, the date on which the Moon was blown out of the Earth’s orbit along with the 311 men and women of Moonbase Alpha – but over just how long a period of time does the rest of the show take place?
With the exception of Breakaway and Dragon’s Domain precise dates were rarely given throughout the show’s first season, with the passage of time since the Moon left Earth orbit being referred to in general terms such as “months” in The Last Sunset. From the start of the second season onwards however Doctor Russell began recording the Moonbase Alpha Status Report, during which she would normally mention how many dates it had been since the Breakaway. From this we can see that the events of the second season occur over a period of nearly six years, which does provide a possible explanation as to the various appearances and disappearances within the second season’s regular cast (i.e. normal personnel rotation).
However, several major continuity problems exist within the dates given in the second season – including clashes with events from the first! Below we’ve listed all on-screen dates given during Moonbase Alpha’s voyage through space, including (in italics) events which had happened before their respective episode started but for which a date was given – and our journey begins before the Moon left Earth orbit…
Dragon’s Domain (flashback) Thursday June 6th 1996
The crew of the Ultra Probe depart Moonbase Alpha and are shuttled to the Interplanetary Space Station for the launching of the Probe. The voyage to Ultra then takes eight months, while Cellini’s return trip takes six, so he would have been found and returned to Alpha somewhere in August or September 1997.
Dragon’s Domain (flashback) – Tuesday September 3rd 1996
Following a broadcast of Space News on this day, Tony Cellini and John Koenig finally decide which of them will be commander of the Ultra Probe.
The chronology of these first two events obviously makes no sense, as the Ultra Probe cannot have been launched before Cellini was chosen as its commander. Two possible in-universe explanations are that either Helena misremembered the mission’s launch date while typing up her report, or the Space News newscaster got the date wrong. The actual real world explanation for the error is that the script provided the English format date of 9/3/96 – and so the September 3rd edition of Space News as introduced by the newscaster was actually meant to have been read out as March 9th. Unfortunately, it won’t be the last time a Space:1999 script causes problems for anyone trying to create a chronology of events.
Breakaway – September 9th 1999 – September 13th 1999
The events of Breakaway play out, from Nordstrom’s death and Koenig’s return to Alpha on September 9th, to the catastrophic disaster itself on September 13th.
342 days after leaving Earth orbit – The Metamorph (Sunday August 20th 2000)
The Moon emerges from its second encounter with a space warp, and passes within range of the planet Psychon.
398 days – The Moon drifts into a region of space densely populated by stars (Saturday October 16th 2000).
403 days – The Exiles (Friday October 20th 2000)
Helena gives this date while recording a status report at the start of the episode, where she also mentions that the Moon has “been travelling in an area of deep space where the stars are so close that we’re constantly bathed in a lovely blue light.”
515 days – One Moment of Humanity (Friday February 9th 2001)
Helena gives this date halfway through the episode while recording a status report on the fake Moonbase Alpha, so it’s possible that it may not be totally accurate.
563 days – Moonbase Alpha’s sensors detects a small nearby planet rich in milgonite deposits (Thursday March 29th 2001).
565 days – All That Glisters (Saturday March 31st 2001)
A laboratory Eagle is dispatched to recover milgonite, on a three-hour geological survey to the new planet.
640 days – The Mark of Archanon (Thursday June 14th 2001)
Pasc and Etrec are discovered in the lunar catacombs and transferred to Medical Center.
642 days – The Mark of Archanon (Saturday June 16th 2001)
Commander Koenig and Maya return from a survey of Blue Quadrant.
850 days – The Moon drifts into a space storm that it will be traversing for the next forty-two days. (Thursday January 10th 2002)
877 days – Dragon’s Domain (Wednesday February 6th 2002)
The Moon is now between galaxies, drifting through interstellar space (and apparently nowhere near a space storm) when Tony Cellini first becomes aware of the approaching presence of the alien creature that killed his crew aboard the Ultra Probe.
892 days – The Rules of Luton (Thursday February 21st 2002)
The Moon emerges from the space storm after forty-two days, and an expedition is launched to the planet Luton.
1095 days – New Adam New Eve (Thursday September 12th 2002)
Magus arrives on Alpha and invites a landing party to explore New Earth. This team appears to remain on the planet for at least two nights, although the passage of time could be one of Magus’ illusions.
1150 days – Brian the Brain (Wednesday November 6th 2002)
Moonbase Alpha’s computers are engaged in a record review when the Moon encounters Captain Michael’s lost Swift, with the computer Brian aboard.
1196 days – Catacombs of the Moon (Sunday December 22nd 2002)
Michelle Osgood is in Medical Center, awaiting an artificial substitute for her own failing heart, when Helena records her status report. Following increasing temperatures on Alpha the Moon is then blasted by a firestorm that hits Alpha at “eleven hundred” – although it’s unclear whether that occurs on the same or a subsequent day.
1281 days – The Moon first detects the shockwave of distant explosions. (Monday March 17th 2003)
1288 days – The AB Chrysalis (Monday March 24th 2003)
The Moon is now in range of the planet that has been projecting shockwaves of increasing intensity at twelve-hour intervals for a whole week, and a survey Eagle is launched to investigate.
1496 days – The Beta Cloud (Saturday October 18th 2003)
A strange cloud appears in the Moon’s path and renders the majority’s of Alpha’s personnel incapable of carrying out their duties.
1499 days – The Beta Cloud (Tuesday October 21st 2003)
Tom Graham takes Eagle 6 to investigate the space cloud.
1503 days – The Beta Cloud (Saturday October 25th 2003)
Eagle 6 returns to Alpha minus Tom Graham, and piloted by an alien robot who then spends the day tearing the base apart in search of its life support system.
1608 days – Seed of Destruction (Saturday February 7th 2004)
A reconnaissance Eagle is launched to explore a jewel-like asteroid.
1702 days – A Matter of Balance (Tuesday May 11th 2004)
Shermeen Williams has a minor falling out with Tony Verdeschi, before the Alphans launch a survey of the planet Sunim.
1704 days – A Matter of Balance (Thursday May 13th 2004)
Shermeen notifies Tony that she no longer has room for his hops in the Hydroponics Section.
1807 days – Space Warp (Tuesday August 24th 2004)
A derelict spaceship appears in the Moon’s third quadrant, and an Eagle is launched to investigate.
1912 days – The Bringers of Wonder part 1 (Tuesday December 7th 2004)
Commander Koenig becomes suddenly irrational and crashes his Eagle at the Nuclear Waste Dumps. He is subsequently confined to Medical Center under restraint.
1991 days – First sighting of the Tora space phenomena (Thursday February 24th 2005).
2009 days – Dorzak (Monday March 14th 2005)
Moonbase Alpha detects the universal plague warning signal from a passing Croton spacecraft.
2012 days – The Séance Spectre (Thursday March 17th 2005)
The Moon is now within Eagle range of Tora.
2301 days – First sighting of Entra and Ellna. (Saturday December 31st 2005)
2306 days – Devil’s Planet (Thursday January 5th 2006)
An Eagle reconnaissance flight is launched to the planet Ellna, and subsequently crashes on its moon Entra.
2308 days – The Lambda Factor (Saturday January 7th 2006)
Despite the obvious proximity of Entra and Ellna, Helena says the Moon is now “travelling through an area of deep space which we have named the Peace Zone. No nearby stars, no space storms, no possible dangers of any kind.” The Lambda phenomenon is already causing disruption among the personnel of Alpha. An Earth type planet is also first detected by the Alphans on this day.
2310 days – The Immunity Syndrome (Monday January 9th 2006)
A survey team lands on the new Earth type planet to investigate it for possible colonisation by the Alphans.
2409 days – The Dorcons (Tuesday April 18th 2006)
A mysterious object is detected in space, and is ultimately revealed to be a disguised Dorcon battlecruiser.
2515 days – The Bringers of Wonder part 2 (Wednesday August 2nd 2006)
The date given in Helena’s status report at the beginning of the episode places The Bringers of Wonder part 2 six hundred and three days after part 1, as Koenig is finally freed from his restraints from Medical Center. Either Helena made a significant mistake in her log, or else the alien visitors were playing a very long game, as around nineteen months have now passed since they first landed on Alpha in their Superswift.
At first it seems that each episode of the second season is wisely placed roughly one hundred days apart, although as the season progresses the gaps begin to close up quite significantly. While not impossible, it may be pushing credibility somewhat to have the events of Devil’s Planet, The Lambda Factor and The Immunity Syndrome all taking place within the same week. The presence of the first season’s Dragon’s Domain during the events of the second season’s The Rules of Luton is also problematic, although perhaps not for those fans who consider the events of seasons one and two as taking place in two separate timelines. The massive gap between parts of The Bringers of Wonder (a gap which every single subsequent episode of the series fits into) is undoubtedly the most difficult issue to explain in-universe – unless, as she may have done several times in this list, Helena simply got her dates wrong!