July 10th, 2040. It’s a date that will be familiar to many as the day Jeff Tracy landed on the surface of the Moon, becoming the first human being to set foot on the lunar surface in the 21st Century. Nearly seven decades since Apollo 17 departed from the Moon, humanity’s return to Earth’s sole natural satellite was not simply intended as a brief visit, but one which would mark the beginning of the first lunar colony.
Jeff Tracy, already a seasoned astronaut, was chosen as the Commander of the mission, with Allison Richards as Deputy Commander, Marcus Thorne as Command Module Pilot and Kristen Grant as Lunar Module Pilot.
The four astronauts blasted off from Cape Kennedy in their state-of-the-art rocket ship, sending them hurtling beyond the bounds of Earth and into the void of space. Their primary objective was clear: survey the proposed construction site for humanity’s first permanent base on the Moon and confirm its readiness for the next phase of the mission. The operation was given the name Project Lunarville and the hope was that, if successful, many more missions would follow, with bases being constructed over a wide area across the Moon’s surface.
The lunar module detached from the command module on schedule and made a flawless descent to the powdery grey surface far below. Commander Tracy would later remark that the significance of his first actual step onto the Moon wouldn’t hit him until much later, as he was so focused on the next phase of the operation and scarcely took it in. Indeed, the onboard video footage shows the Commander barely pause for breath as he reached the bottom of the ladder and turned to operate the folding lunar rover from its storage compartment.
The spacecraft was somewhat larger than the earlier Apollo capsules, designed to support a crew of three for up to a month if necessary. Marcus Thorne, who remained in orbit in the command module for the duration of the 21 day mission joked that the solitude gave him a chance to catch up on his reading. In reality, Thorne was in near constant contact with Tracy and the others throughout the mission, passing vital reports back to Earth control.
Tracy, Richards and Grant carried out extensive surveys and mapped out the area for the construction of the base, tentatively titled Lunarville Alpha, though this would later be changed to simply Lunarville and later Lunarville 1 after the construction of the second base.
All four members of the mission would return to the Moon a few months later to oversee the construction process, along with the delivery of robotic construction drones and equipment necessary for assembling the base. Construction was completed in March 2041 and Lunarville received its first full-time crew by transport shuttle on April 2nd of that year.
After his return to Earth, Commander Jeff Tracy announced his intention to retire from active duty in order to spend time with his wife and their young family. Despite his departure from a high-profile career, his historic contributions to lunar habitation stand as part of a legacy that endures to this day.
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