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Features: Articles & Interviews

"Breakaway": Observations on time units and lunar position

By Dex (20 August 2003)

Breakaway: Nuclear Disposal Area #2 explodes. Pictured: Moonbase Alpha in the foreground.  

In the Space: 1999 universe, Monday, 13 September 1999 is known as "Breakaway." (This is also the name of the premiere episode.) It is during this tragic event that a massive chain of nuclear explosions hurl the Earth's moon from it's orbit and into interstellar space, likely with the unseen help of a Mysterious Unknown Force (M.U.F.).

This article examines the time units during the Breakaway event, as well as the Moon's position in (and out) of Earth orbit. We remind everyone that while Space: 1999's reality may break some rules of physics, in the Space: 1999 reality these discrepancies are fact. (This television series is part of the science fiction genre!) To quote the famous philosopher, Bugs Bunny, "I haven't broken any laws of physics. I haven't studied law."

Time Units

Two assumptions were made with this analysis.

  1. That the International Lunar Commission uses the Universal Time for all extraterrestrial programs.
  2. The digital clock shown on the communications post was set to Universal Time.

Let's begin...

During Act 3

Note: On the communications post in the Main Mission command office, the analog clock shows 6:42; the digital clocks shows 4:42. Act 3 Shot 387. Clock error?

To continue:

During Act 4

Note: Earth is shown as a waxing Crescent over Moonbase Alpha. Act 4 Shot 422.

Note: Earth is shown as a waxing Gibbous over Moonbase Alpha. Act 4 Shot 459.

Note: Earth is shown in the first Quarter from lunar orbit. Act 4 Shot 469.

Note: Earth is shown as a waxing Gibbous from lunar orbit. Act 4 Shot 477.

Note: Earth is shown as a waxing Gibbous from space. Act 4 Shot 483.

Note: On the communications post in the medical center the digital clocks shows 20:18. Act 4 Shot 505. The analog clock was only partially shown.

Note: Earth and the Moon was shown in the first Quarter from Mars orbit. Act 4 Shots 507 and 510.

Note: On the communications post in the medical center, the analog clock shows 8:23; the digital clocks shows 20:23. Act 4 Shot 533. Clocks are the same.

From the time line we can gather the following facts:


Lunar position

One question asked by Space: 1999 fans: Which side of the Earth would witness the "Breakaway" events? Based on the time units, the Moon is a Waning Gibbous at 20:00 Universal Time when Nuclear Disposal Area 2 ignited.

In the month of September of the Northern Hemisphere, the Moon will rise at approximately 22:30 Universal Time (22.5°E longitude) and set approximately 10:30 Universal Time (157.50°E longitude).

(Universal time is located at 0° Longitude.)

Table 1

CityLongitudeLocal TimeDate (year 1999 A.D.)Lunar Observation
London8:00 p.m.Sept. 13A slight glow to the east.
Moscow37° 35'E11:00 p.m.Sept. 13Moon is just rising.
Calcutta88° 22'E1:30 a.m.Sept. 14Moon half way to it's zenith.
Tokyo139° 46'E5:00 a.m.Sept. 14Moon just passed it's zenith.
Sydney151° 13'E7:00 a.m.Sept. 14Half way down from zenith.
Anchorage149° 54'W11:00 a.m.Sept. 13A slight glow to the west.
Los Angeles118° 14'W12:00 noonSept. 13None
New York74° 0' W3:00 p.m.Sept. 13None


Projected Lunar Trajectory

VICTOR BERGMAN: "We're down to three G's! We're compensating. You see, the whole Disposal Area has been acting like a gigantic rocket motor, pushing us out of orbit."

COMPUTER: "Indefinite Factors.

The Disposal Area was acting not truly like a rocket motor, but more like an inflated balloon being released. The "rocket exhaust" was not controlled as on a spacecraft with its thruster bells. It is the author's belief that when Nuclear Disposal Area 2 erupted, it first spun the moon (everyone was violently shaken). Then as the nuclear disposal area started to reach a high degree of thrust, the far side of the Moon was first facing Earth, then spun towards the Sun. The Moon was now moving in the proper positions to break out of Earth's orbit (due to high G forces, putting aside any logical physics models).

Even when all sections of Moonbase Alpha were reporting in, the Moon was still rocketing away. Under 3 g's, Moonbase Alpha's artificial gravity system was presumed to compensate and provide the normal 1g gravity environment.

By analyzing the view of Earth, we can gather what trajectory the Moon would have taken as it was blasted out of orbit.

Table 2

View of EarthTaken fromAct/ShotTrajectory
Waxing CrescentOver Moonbase Alpha4 / 422Explosion starts, Moon spins
Waxing GibbousOver Moonbase Alpha4 / 459Moon moves towards the sun
First QuarterLunar orbit4 / 469Moon U-turns back
Waxing GibbousLunar orbit4 / 477Moon breaks out of orbit
Waxing GibbousOuter space4 / 483Fissioning slowing. Down to <3 G's
First QuarterMars orbit4 / 507&510Moon heads between Earth and Mars

(Writer's supplement: I believe that at first the Moon traveled in the same plane of the solar system, because the moon was heading towards the Mars satellite. What happens afterward is anyone's guess.)


Our Reality vs. Space: 1999 Reality

On 13 September 1999, the Moon was a Waxing Crescent with an illuminated fraction of 0.184. It will be 3.5 days before the first quarter. Our Moon is almost 180° opposite from the Space: 1999 reality.

From Mars orbit, the satellite should have shown the Earth and moon in the Last Quarter. The Space: 1999 reality shows it in the First Quarter. So, Mars in our reality would be lagging 90° in its orbit from what the Space: 1999 reality has it.


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