Everything you wanted to know about the history of the Red Planet in the Gerry Anderson Universe but were afraid to ask.
BY KEITH ANSELL
Who thinks that Captain Paul Travers and his Zero X crew were the first men to land on Mars in 2026?
The movie ‘Thunderbirds Are Go’ does give that impression but the history of Mankind’s exploration and colonisation of the Red Planet in the Gerry Anderson Universe is a tangled one – so I will attempt to piece it all together for you.
In Gerry’s only live action film ‘Doppelganger’ (set around the same time as ‘UFO’ if the space suits we see in the movie are any thing to go by) we are informed that Colonel Glenn Ross (played by Roy Thinnes) had made two flights to Mars.
These were orbital missions only to test astronauts endurance on such long flights i.e. 35 million miles at perigee.
Ross did not land.
The apparent detection of a new planet in our Solar System occupying the same orbit as Earth but on the far side of the Sun to our own delayed a landing on Mars – and then came the thermonuclear war of 1987, which destroyed Switzerland and devastated the rest of the world. All records of the secret mission to Earth’s ‘doppelganger’ were lost during the war as if the mirror world had never really existed.
When peace was finally declared it was decided to dismantle all remaining nuclear weapons and dispose of the warheads in deep silos on the far side of the Moon.
These nuclear disposal areas were to be monitored by the newly built Moonbase Alpha under the authority of the World Space Commission.
The first manned landing to Mars was postponed again in 1991 with the discovery of the exotic metal Ciluvium on Pharos (a large asteroid whose erratic orbit was at this time placing it in between Earth and Mars).
NASA sent a third orbital mission to Mars in 1995 to show they had not lost interest in the Red Planet (which included Alan Carter on the team) but their attention was now firmly on Pharos.
The first Ciluvium Mine was opened there in 1998 – the year Pharos was reclassified as a planet.
The detection of planet Meta on the edge of our Solar System in the same year was a further distraction.
The Moon was blasted out of Earth’s orbit in the ‘Breakaway Disaster’ of 1999 when the nuclear waste stored in Nuclear Disposal Area 2 on the dark side detonated due to an inexplicable increase in magnetic radiation - only for it to miraculously return the same day.
Scientists on Earth never could agree upon what had actually happened or explain why Commander Koenig and his Moonbase Alpha staff had all physically aged over seven years – and some had not survived the incident at all.
The Solar System Exploration Centre was founded at Glenn Field Space Port, Nevada, early in the 21st Century to be responsible for Mankind’s exploration of Mars and then the rest of the Solar System.
Suddenly giant automated spaceships attacked Earth in 2001 – the start of a war with Jupiter. The Jovian Ruler Kranol saw Mankind’s expansion into the Solar System as a threat to his people- a humanoid race that lived on the moons of Jupiter.
The war with Jupiter finally came to an end some years later when Kranol led his forces in an attack on the Moon and was captured by the man whose construction company was building the Lunar Colony - Jeff Tracy.
A short-lived peace now came to the Solar System.
NASA had been experimenting with the use of clones after the loss of the lightship Altares (whose maiden flight to the Alpha Centauri star system had been launched prior to the Breakaway Disaster).
Further testing of the photon drive had been deemed impractical because of the time dilation effect and its negative psychological impact on the crew i.e. returning home to find loved ones years older than when you left would be no joke.
Professor Gerhard Stein had developed a rapid cloning process that NASA wished to perfect for manning lengthy probe flights to the nearer stars but there was a moral outcry on Earth – fears that cloning techniques would fall into unscrupulous hands.
NASA publicly denounced cloning in favour of experimenting with the recently posited hyperdrive theory and developing more efficient conventional fuels – but secretly plans were made for establishing a permanent station on Mars as a stepping-off point for clone-manned expeditions.
John Westley was appointed First Officer of the Top Secret 2009 Mars Landing Mission.
He was Katherine Westley’s father who would change her name to Kate Kestrel when she joined the elite Terrahawks Earth Defence Squadron in 2018.
Westley’s team included space pioneer Sir William Frazer and his wife.
Sir William’s wife gave birth to a baby boy on 2nd December 2018 in the partly completed base – the first human child to be born on the Red Planet.
Two-year-old William Frazer Junior and his parents returned to Earth in 2020 once NASA’s base was fully operational – only days before alien forces destroyed it completely.
As far as the general public was aware NASA had established a fully automated research station on Mars to prepare for a forthcoming manned landing.
When contact with the base was lost NASA announced that a planned radio silence was in force to allow necessary maintenance – but the World’s Press were becoming suspicious.
Thus began a three yearlong war with the android Witch Queen Zelda from the planet Guk in the Alpha Centauri star system. Then one day in 2023 her forces suddenly left Mars never to be seen or heard from again.
I can now reveal that Zelda discovered the Mysterons much to her regret.
She was sent back to Guk as a Mysteron Agent with instructions to begin a War of Nerves against her home planet because of her unprovoked attack on their Complex.
With Zelda’s forces gone the SSEC could publicly commence their exploration program of the Solar System using the revolutionary spacecraft Zero X.
With the production of hydromic fuel from sea water (invented by Professor Borender and Sir Jeremy Hodge) and the ongoing development of a stable hyperdrive the use of clones for long-term space missions was now abandoned.
Zero X Mark I under the command of Captain Paul Travers and his four-man crew took off for Mars in June 2024 but the spaceship had been sabotaged by the Hood and crashed back to Earth before it left the atmosphere.
Two years later on 22nd July 2026 the Martian Excursion Vehicle of Zero X Mark II (again under Captain Travers command) made the first public manned landing on Mars and encountered the deadly lava spitting Rock Snakes for the first time warranting a hasty return to Earth.
The long delayed Martian Colonisation Program began the same year and when the first colonists arrived they avoided the Rock Snake Region like the plague.
The Domed capital city of the colony was completed in 2030 and named Kahra.
United Nations Inter Planetary Communications moved their HQ to Kahra in the same year due to the tensions created on Earth by the European Atomic War, which had begun in 2028 as a result of a disastrous breakdown in communications.
John Westley (who had been Commander in Chief of the UNIPC since 2011) now changed the name of his organisation to the more appropriate ‘Universal Secret Service’.
Steve Zodiac was born in Kahra on the 29th October 2030. His father was Air General Zodiac who later took over control of the USS in 2038 and assumed the code name S.
William Frazer Junior joined the USS the same year and changed his name to Brent Cleever to protect his family.
He became Senior Special Agent 21 in 2041 and finally Operations Director of the USS in 2055 with the rank of General.
The Mars Colony became founding members of the World Space Empire in 2045 with the formation of the World Government on Earth.
The super hard metal Cahelium Extract X4 was developed by Professor Carrel on Mars in 2048 from the original formula invented by Hiram ‘Brains’ Hackenbacker back in 2024.
In 2067 strange radio signals were detected originating from an unexplored area of Mars beyond the Rock Snake Region by Spectrum – the newly formed elite security force back on Earth.
In February 2068 a Zero X mission headed by Spectrum’s top field agent Captain Black found the source of the signals – the Mysteron Complex!
The rest is history, as all fans of ‘Captain Scarlet’ would say.
Mars was destroyed in 2070 – but that is another story….
Unfortunately the ‘UFO’ strip which appeared in the weekly comic Countdown (no’s 19 to 25 published 26/6/71 to 7/8/71) could not be reconciled with this history of the Red Planet.
It was entitled ‘The Force Field’ and informed us that a SHADO sponsored Mining Exploration Expedition had landed on Mars and constructed a base there presumably some time prior to 1981.
When SHADO HQ lost contact with their survey team after tracking a group of UFOs heading for Mars Paul Foster made a ‘swift’ trip to the Red Planet in a Lunar Module (??) to investigate.
This does not gel with other established ‘facts’ - unless SHADO had some form of alien derived hyperdrive they were keeping very quiet about.
Who knows – perhaps Colonel Ed Straker was the first man to land on Mars after all?
What do you think?
Written by Keith Ansell
EDITOR'S NOTE: This text was written as part of Keith Ansell's Neutroni Transmissions column for the Century 21 Magazine, but the mag unfortunately folded before it could be published. Thanks to Keith for submitting it to this website.