Virgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic Announce Unity

When Gerry and Sylvia Anderson envisioned Space: 1999 back in the early 70s, they probably thought it would be the governments of the world that would take the first major steps toward colonising our solar system and enabling every day people to experience space.

While NASA, Roscosmos, the European Space Agency and other similar organisations have done a great deal of work in this area, it’s private businesses that are looking further afield as they investigate space tourism and even space mining.

One such company is Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic.

Virgin Galactic is a spaceflight company within the Virgin Group that is developing commercial spacecraft with the aim of providing suborbital spaceflights to tourists who want a space experience.  Virgin Galactic is also exploring suborbital launches for space science missions and actual orbital launches for small satellites.

One of Virgin Galactic‘s future goals is to conduct actual orbital spaceflights for every day human beings.

If you’d like to learn more about this fascinating company and their objectives, click here.

The company was founded by Sir Richard Branson and it’s certainly had its ups and downs since its formation in 2004.  Despite some setbacks, Sir Richard has never given up on his dream.

Following in the footsteps of WhiteKnightTwo (a custom-built, four-engine, dual fuselage jet aircraft that was designed to carry a suborbital vehicle up to an altitude of 50,000 feet for a safe and efficient launch), and the first SpaceShipTwo (a reusable, winged spacecraft designed to carry up to eight people into space that broke apart and crashed in 2014 over the Mojave Desert), Sir Richard unveiled Virgin Galactic‘s second SpaceShipTwo on the 19th of February in Mojave, California.

Professor Stephen Hawking named the new vehicle VSS (Virgin Spaceship) Unity via a recorded speech and said “I would be very proud to fly on this spaceship.”

Along with Space X and a few other private companies, Virgin Galactic is taking some exciting steps forward in making spaceflight a relatively inclusive experience.  I say ‘relatively’, because the cost per passenger isn’t something many of us will be able to afford.

While the eventual commercialisation of space is exciting, it’s also a little frightening.

In 1967 the United Nations sponsored “Outer Space Treaty” established all of outer space as an international commons by forbidding all of the nations of the world from claiming territorial sovereignty over any body or location beyond our planet.

That Treaty was ratified by 102 countries, including all major space-faring nations.  In association with that Treaty, the “Moon Treaty” was finalised in 1979 and came into force in 1984, forbidding private ownership of extraterrestrial real estate.  Sadly, as of the 1st of January 2013, only 15 governments had ratified the agreement and none of them were major space-faring nations.

All of this has become very relevant recently, as people start to ask questions about mining asteroids, mining the moon, and even establishing tourist hot spots on Luna and Mars.

One thing is for certain, if there is money to be made out of the moon, Mars or any object in the solar system, legal challenges will eventually make things like the Outer Space Treaty and the Moon Treaty irrelevant – or it will modify them significantly.  When we look beyond the financial gain some businesses would be set to make by mining objects in our solar system, the simple fact that Earth’s resources are disappearing may make it all a moot point.  In some minds, it seems more and more imperative we explore the possibility of colonising our solar system.

As we move forward into this ‘brave’ (?) new world of space tourism and potential corporate expansion into the solar system, it will be interesting to see how the governments of the world and the United Nations shape up to deal with these challenges – and the amazing potential that lies beyond our beautiful blue-green world.

Space 2049 Page Break

Welcome to Moonbase Alpha

Space 1999 Year 1 Promotional Poster

If you were a child born in the 1970’s in Australia, chances are one of your first introductions to science fiction was the television show Space: 1999.

At the time it aired down under there wasn’t a lot of science fiction available.  Star Trek was already in syndication and I had loved the few episodes I’d seen because it only ever (at that time) appeared haphazardly on Aussie TV screens, Star Wars was about a year away or was close to being released (I can’t remember which, I just know I saw Space: 1999 first), and there was Doctor Who which my family thought was terrible so I wasn’t allowed to watch it.

There might have been other science fiction shows out there, but Australian television didn’t show them.  Eventually we got Blakes 7, but that was deemed far to adult and I wasn’t allowed to watch that one either.

When Space: 1999 hit Australia’s airwaves I was immediately sold.  I don’t think I had any real idea of what science fiction was at that point in my life, being only five or six years of age, but that is when my love affair with the genre began.

Eventually Star Trek reruns settled into a regular Saturday afternoon time slot, and Battlestar Galactica aired (which I also loved) of a Friday night, but for me it all started with the crew of Moonbase Alpha and their adventures on a wayward moon.

Space: 1999 became something of an obsession for me, one which continues to this very day.  It launched my interest in the space program, and made me believe that one day I could go to space too.  I remember asking family members how I could become an astronaut.  All they could tell me was that I had to be really smart and needed to get good grades.  Even though Space: 1999 was only on air for two years, my desire to get into outer space stayed solid.  I ended up in advanced science and maths classes and was determined to get into space… until, at the age of 14, my all boys school amalgamated with an all girls school and I discovered the fairer sex.  Let’s just say my grades didn’t survive the experience.  Thanks, puberty!

Space: 1999 stayed with me across the years because of the immediate impression it made on me.  Space: 1999 was the only show at that I knew of back then (and for a number of years afterward) that was, time wise, close enough to touch.  In 1976, 1999 was only 23 years away.  That did feel like forever to my young mind, but my young mind also knew that I’d only be in my 20s and most likely still alive.  Being twenty-something felt like the perfect age to go to the moon.

When I watch Space: 1999 now it fills with me nostalgia and a sense of joy.  It also makes me wish I’d never discovered sex and had stayed dedicated to my studies, even though we’re not living on the moon yet.  Despite our failure to colonise the moon (to date) we still have multiple space agencies, and having a couple of degrees in engineering or physics might have gotten me a job with Elon Musk or Bigelow Aerospace!

Watching Space: 1999 now also does make me occasionally cringe.  I’m not the sort of fan who forgives all sins.  Some of the episodes are truly bad.  Despite those bad episodes, I still see an incredible amount of unrealised potential in the show.  Not necessarily the premise as it was, but the concept.

Space: 1999 didn’t tie every episode off with a nice little bow.  It didn’t always give its audience a satisfying conclusion, and would often leave a mystery unsolved or give us a dark and unexpected ending  – an approach the rebooted Battlestar Galactica went on to so eloquently emulate and improve on.

Despite it’s occasional unanswered question and intermittent darkness, Space: 1999 was not dystopic, but a product of its time.  Just like the much admired David Eick and Ronald D. Moore reboot of Battlestar Galactica.

Though I was so young when Space: 1999 aired in Australia, I was surrounded by adults and sensed their concerns and uncertainty and distrust of certain things.  I still remember my mother fighting the education board over my ability to go to a private school that refused to accept the children of divorcees.  I remember my grandparents and mother working incredibly hard to scrape together enough money to keep me in that private school.  We were a poor, working class family, but my family wanted to make sure I had the best education possible.  I remember times when there was not enough food, I remember uncles and aunts and grandparents talking with disgust about government and religion and multiple issues.

The 1970s were as far from a utopia as you could get, and Space: 1999 tackled some of those issues, and often in very subtle ways.

For many years I wondered why a continuation didn’t happen, then once 1999 passed, I wondered why no one was rebooting the show or remaking it in some way.  To me, there were easy fixes that would help make Space: 1999 work in our contemporary world.

Then it came.  A reboot was announced.  Space 2099.  It wasn’t my idea of the best way forward (I would have preferred a relatively faithful remake), but it was better than nothing and I got pretty excited!  The fact it was being done by Jace Hall (who was involved with V) made me feel like they’d do a good job.

And then it didn’t happen, and has been listed as ‘in development’ for quite some time now.

In impatience, I’ve decided to do a speculative remake on WordPress.  Not with the intention of it getting turned into a real series, because life doesn’t work like that, but because I wanted to.  And because there are other fans out there, like me, who still love the show and would like to see it reborn again in some manner.

Through this site, I wanted to show that a remake could work without the need to reboot and redo everything.  As a collective audience, we in the scifi world have had more than enough of that!

 

This speculative remake is relatively faithful.  I’ve made some changes to a couple of secondary characters, and I’ve changed one major story point a lot, but let everything else relatively untouched except for where it needs to be updates (costumes, aspects of some sets, visual effects etc).

So what’s the major story point that I’ve changed?

The moon isn’t blasted out of orbit.  While it isn’t impossible for the moon to somehow be pushed out of orbit, it is highly HIGHLY improbable.

Instead, we’ve found what I think is a simple and effective work around.

I hope you enjoy it, and I hope you also start asking “why hasn’t anyone remade this show?!”

Before I wrap up this introduction, I quickly wanted to plug an awesome book I stumbled across a couple of years ago.

Exploring Space: 1999 by John Kenneth Muir is an excellent look at the classic series that you should check out.  It goes into great depth on the series, it’s cancellation, and more.  Plus, if you are a fan of the series, the book also features a special interview with the actor who brought the mysterious Psychon, Maya, to life.  Catherine Schell.

Lastly, this site also has a blog that is all about classic and modern popular science fiction as well as developments in space research that will let us one day explore our solar system and galaxy.  You’ll find it’s our homepage.  The other pages on this site will focus exclusively on this speculative remake of Space: 1999.

As I said a few paragraphs ago, I hope you enjoy this little trip into the near future, and I hope you either like the choices I’ve made, or at the very least think they have some merit.

The original Space: 1999 was created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson.

No copyright infringement is intended.  This is a passion project and a work of fandom intended for lovers of the original who still dream of Space: 1999 coming back.

Space 1999 Year 2 Promotional Poster