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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

"Satellite Scare"

UFO Annual 1970
Polystyle Publications
Writer: Unknown


A missing NASA satellite suddenly reappears after four years.


Read the story at the SHADO: UK website




This is a 9-page short story that appeared in UFO Annual 1970.




Straker sends Foster to take command of Moonbase for a month after returning from leave and suggests he'll get a thrill out of seeing Earthrise over the Haemus Mountains on the moon. Returning to Earth a couple days later, after the satellite incident in this story, Foster remarks he never did get to see Earthrise. This seems to suggest that this was Foster's first assignment as commander of Moonbase. For that reason, I've placed this story shortly after "Training" and before "Conflict", an early episode in which Foster is already depicted as commander of Moonbase.




On page 18, Foster identifies himself to the SHADO computer via voice-print, using the unit disguised as a cigarette box on Straker's desk. The computer voice responds, "Voice print...positive identification eight zero four...Foster, Paul J." 804 was revealed to be Foster's SHADO code number at the end of "Exposed"


On page 19, Straker suggests that Foster might get a thrill out of seeing Earthrise over the Haemus Mountains on the moon. This is an actual mountain range on the moon, though more commonly referred to by their Latin name, Montes Haemus. Is this meant to suggest that Moonbase is located near the Haemus range? The range is located at the coordinates 19.9° N, 9.2° E. (Photo from the Lupu Victor Astronomy page.)


One of the female space trackers at Moonbase in this story is named Paula Harris. This was the name in early drafts of the series treatment of the woman who later became Lt. Gay Ellis on the TV show. Lt. Ellis herself also appears later in the story.


Page 20 reveals that the holes the Interceptors emerge from on the moon's surface are natural craters converted into launch pads. Also revealed is that the Interceptor engines are atomic-powered.


The object detected by Moonbase is discovered to be an errant NASA satellite that was lost shortly after launch four years previous. NASA, of course, is the United States' official space agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.


Page 23 reveals that the bunks in the Sleep Sphere of Moonbase have lights installed above them which flash in hypnotic patterns that are meant to induce sleep.


Foster orders the unconscious Garret taken to sick bay. Since none of the five spheres of Moonbase are referred to as anything similar to "Medical", the sick bay must be in the rectangular Central Park building at the center of Moonbase.


Taken over by the mind control device on the errant satellite during the space walk, Sanchez threatens Foster with the laser gun he's using to sever the tethers and metal seams of the satellite. Foster realizes that one blast from the gun would mean his complete disintegration. This is highly unlikely; the laser beam would have to be extremely wide and powerful to effect the disintegration of an entire human body. Rather, the beam would burn a whole through Foster's spacesuit and into his body.


The photo on page 26 is a scene from "Exposed". 


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