After the Apollo missions of the 1960s and early 1970s, space exploration was very nearly abandoned as public pressure mounted for money to be concentrated on problems down here on Earth.
But, by a whisker, funding was granted for a base on the Moon. Greatly expanded, it became the international Moonbase Alpha we know today. 311 personnel serve in a perfect, self-sustaining, artificial environment - their mission statement: ‘to forward the frontiers of human knowledge and science’.
Dateline: 13th September 1999. The interplanetary Meta Probe is due to be launched from a platform orbiting the Moon. What could possibly go wrong?