Alternate History

Heliopolis (Superpowers)

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Heliopolis is the first extra-planetary human settlement in history. The exact location of the city is on the surface of Luna inside of the northernmost large impact crater (OTL Peary crater). During the Luna II mission, which orbited the Moon from pole to pole, two areas around the crater were discovered that are consistently bathed in sunlight, while at the same time, parts of the inside of the crater were completely shielded from from EM of both Terra and Sol. This allows cheap, limitless energy production and a reduced need for radiation shielding of the cities inhabitants. Not only that, but it obsoletes the need for visor protection on moonwalking residents. A final reason it was chosen for the site of the first lunar base, is that a radio telescope could be built there that would be unaffected by the static emanating from Terra.


Due to its location, the city of Heliopolis has a unique and rather hectic history, despite it only stretching out for a little over half-a-century.


Luna base location

Approximate location of Heliopolis

Heliopolis (Greek: Ἡλιούπολις) derives from the Greek words Helios, meaning Sun and Polis, meaning city. Therefore, in English, the city would be known as Sun-City (not City of the Sun however). This name was chosen for the Lunar settlement directly by the Roman Emperor Sulla II himself, and he put forward to the Discateria several reasons for his decision.

  1. He was erudite of both Greek literature and history and he had a good deal of knowledge regarding the ancient city of Heliopolis and its eventual fate
  2. The sun was associated with the celestial spheres, and so it seemed natural that the first celestial city should have a name reflecting this
  3. He was told of all the reasons for the cities location, and they all seemed to him to revolve around the sun

In reality, it was most likely just the first reason that caused him to want to name the city Heliopolis, though the others still serve to further his case.


One year after the Artemis Program was extended to include a Lunar landing, it was decided by the Emperor and his Bureau that the mission would be more than just an exploratory one. Emperor Sulla II had a firm vision of extending his empire to the stars and of course when he explained his idea to the Discateria there was an almost unanimous agreement to go forward with the plan. Following a green-lighting from the Concilium Aetherium of the Alliance, an enormous team of scientists, architects and doctors was created to determine how exactly they were gonna pull this off.

The amount of engineering hurdles that would have to be overcome for this mission are generally considered to be greater than those of any other project in human history. Luckily, due to the location, the obstacles ahead of the team were far less daunting than they could have been and by 1945 final designs for the base were drawn up following a change to include a radioisotope piston generator like the one on the Castrum Astri, as an additional power source.

In June 1945 the Luna IV lander touches down on the Moon containing the generator and a large supply of tools for later use. It also contains materials for use in the construction of a permanent base, like pre-cut brittanium and plumbum (titanium and lead). Also, in early January 1946, Luna V arrived on the moon, bringing with it both a specially designed lunar vehicle and more construction materials.

Finally, on the 2nd of June 1946, Luna VI landed on the Moon with a team of one veteran cosmonaut, one engineer and three specialized-workers for the assembly process. Over the course of 15 days, the Lunas III, IV and VI were converted into a single linked structure with the use of IV's building materials. All of this was possible thanks to Luna III's air filtration system that allowed for the use of lander VI as a place of temporary habitation.

With the addition of Luna VII in December of the same year, the burgeoning base had a long-term food storage area where the internal radiation levels were equal to that of the Earth's surface. Luna VIII and IX were unmanned missions of early 1947 and together contained 40, 1 square meter solar panels for placement on two of the four points around the crater that receive constant sunlight. In August 1947, there was the first dual-lander mission. Luna X and XI arrived carrying a total of 7 men who assembled both solar power plants, but weren't able to yet connect them to the base. In February of 1948, Luna XII landed on the Moon and its crew converted the lander into a living-quarters in which radiation levels were approximately twice that of the Earth's surface, a permanent presence of humans has however still not been established.

April of the same year, the Archimedes re-usable spacecraft made its maiden voyage, making one orbit around the Earth and safely landing back on Terra firma. It was the Archimedes that went into orbit around the Moon in June and air-dropped the Luna XIII lander. This one was a water storage tank able to hold around 300,000 gallons of water. Not only that, but it also had an advanced water filtration system never before seen on Earth.

Despite all these structures set-up at the base, the city of Heliopolis was not considered officially founded until the mission in which Luna XIV was dropped on the planet. On this mission, not only were the solar panels finally connected, but the settlement became officially integrated into the Roman Empire when Luna XIV was converted into a radio relay station on 21 September 1948. Although two of the members of this expedition did in fact return home, the other three stayed behind to maintain a continuous human presence in the city. From this point onwards, there has been an unending human presence on the Moon, unbroken up till the present time.

Initial Growth

The year 1949 saw very little change in the base, only two missions were executed, and these were only to shift personnel and restock supplies. However, a vital discovery was made, within the perpetually shadowed areas of the crater, large quantities of ice were discovered mixed in with the soil. It is decided that exploitation of this resource will be set back for a much later date.

March 1950 saw the addition of a solar power plant at the third intended site of four. Then in October Luna XV arrived to serve as a hydroponics facility able to produce food for three people. However food supplies are still brought over from Earth after this development, just in smaller quantities. Luna XVI, the last spaceflight to use the Luna-series of craft design, is dropped on the Moon by Archimedes, giving the crew of Heliopolis a second radioisotope piston generator, this one capable of producing over 1100 W of continuous power.

Following the phasing out of the Luna probes, spacecraft landing on the Moon were all of a very specialized design, their shape and size no longer so seriously limited. With the re-usable crafts Archimedes and Chiron, lunar missions could now go at an even higher frequency than they had previously. By this time the average year would experience 6 landings, 1954 even going through with ten successful missions. That year was also important for several other reasons. In February a nuclear battery was installed in the city, allowing the storage of even larger supplies of electrical energy than before. Then in April construction of the first structure built entirely on the Moon's surface was begun, being completed in October a few months later. This was a process that would continue to become a more and more common procedure in Heliopolis, particularly after the arrival of two more lunar vehicles in 1956.

Much to the surprise of the international community, in 1955 the Mayans set-up their own lunar base, dubbed Ahau. Located at similar type of location to Heliopolis, except near the South Pole, the settlement was far less successful than its Roman counterpart. Experts agree that if it was not for their immediate exploitation of water resources there, and the 2 GW fission reactor brought over, then the base would have failed within the first two years.

Heliopolis would finally gain its status as a city in the eyes of the Romans, upon the completion of a ferrum smelting plant in 1958. Since, at the time, the population was only 12 non-permanent cosmonauts, nearly all the work done by this facility was completely automated. With the supervision of one trained-professional, the plant would send out six collector drones to harvest the pyroxene rich soil outside the crater, to be brought back to base for processing by automated systems before smelting finally begun.


Lunar mass driver

Low-quality photo of the electromagnetic lunar catapult, just 30 km SW of Heliopolis

Although resource costs for manned trips to the Moon had been severely lessened with the use of re-usable spacecraft, there was still a disproportionally large cost of bringing personnel back from the lunar surface. It is for this reason that Operation Fulmen is begun in late-1958, with the goal of building a lunar launching platform that uses an electromagnetic catapult to propel the return vehicles back to Earth. Since the vessels are all re-usable, and the power is completely generated on the Moon, the cost of each return trip will be essentially nothing. Despite the urgency of the project, construction wasn't begun till June of the following year, only being finished by December 1960.

With costs down to a fraction of their former size, the number of yearly expeditions to the Moon increased for a second time. On a monthly basis, either the Archimedes, Chiron or Icarus re-usable spacecraft would launch to the Moon for missions of all sorts. In 1961 the Prometheus was completed. In contrast to the Archimedes-class vessels, the new Prometheus did not require disposable fuel tanks or rockets. It was a completely self-dependent craft and its launch would cost only as much as fuel and repairs. Though at the current level of technology in Rome this was impossible, it was done thanks to a refueling satellite placed at the Earth-Moon A3 Punctum Agravitas (OTL L4 Lagrangian Point). The vessel would merely dock with the station, refuel, then be electromagnetically nudged by the station in the direction of the Moon.

Another important development of 1961 is the start of the usage of carbon nanotubes for the space program. Not only was a good deal of Prometheus'' structure composed of it, but in August, carbon nanotube micrometeoroid screens were put in place over all structures in Heliopolis. In general these were just added as an extra outer shell for each structure, but in some places a separated set-up would be built. Though technically the base was at very low risk from the constant micrometeoroid impacts, it was theorized that this addition would significantly improve the lifespan of the structures.

Though a successful radio telescope was assembled in Heliopolis in 1957, it wasn't performing at the level expected by the Roman scientists. So for this reason, in 1962, the old radio telescope was cannibalized for other developments in the city, and construction of a second, larger one was begun. In March of the following year, the 204 m dish was completed, going into operation less than a month later. This was a further step up for the research capabilities of the lunar base, an area which had been ignored for the more important goal of sustaining a growing population.

Up to this point that all growth of the city had been artificial, as in, caused by immigration. But on the 9th of July 1963, Apollo Garius Aetheria was born to two of the colonists, therefore becoming the first human to be born outside the Earth's atmosphere. The Garii, a small family of 5, became the first permanent settlers of Heliopolis, thereby ending the cycles of shifts that had been in place before. By the end of the year, the lunar colony had achieved a rapidly growing population of 98 settlers.

The economy booming from wartime production, materials and people were able to be brought to the Moon at even faster rates. A second lunar colony was established by the Romans in July of 1964 on the far side. It is there that large quantities of Helium-3 atoms are prevalent, and so a production plant was built to exploit this resource. Starting off with a population of two workers, Nova Theba was completely isolated from Heliopolis and had to be serviced by their own separate missions. This proved especially problematic as the lack of a mass driver to return to Earth made the journey a one way trip. To rectify this problem, a maglev track was assembled piece by piece to span the 1,600 km or so between the two settlements. Started in early-1965, extending from both sides at once, it would not be completed until the inauguration ceremony in October of 1967.

With a large source of fuel for particle fusion reactors, two were built in 1966. One provided 1,400 MW for the city of Heliopolis itself and the second was designed to power the Helium-3 production plant and maglev track, which was over two-thirds complete at the time.

Heliopolis 1970

Colonia Luna (1970)
Timeline : Superpowers
Capital Heliopolis
Heliopolis Population 11,790
Cities Nova Theba : 1021

Novalexandria : 662

Official Language Latin (100%)
Other Languages Greek (54%); Brythonnic(3%); Other (12%)
Demonym Lunus
Population 13,673
Population Density Undeterminable
Area Undeterminable
Praetor Aulus Garius Julius
Bureaucratic Representation 1 Consua
Slavery Rate Abolished
Currency None (ration system)

The late 60's period was a prosperous one for the lunar colonies. The completion of a space elevator in 1967 allowed for easy transportation into outer space, giving an enormous population boost to the burgeoning colony. Over that one three year period, from '67 to '70, the population increased by over 2000%. Though the infrastructure of the city before the population explosion could handle a good deal more than what the city had at the time, the increase was so rapid that new buildings and facilities had to be constructed constantly, both from materials brought to the Moon and from steel being produced at the city's four smelting plant.

The inability for construction of homes and industries to keep up with the population influx led to the Lunar Crisis of '68. For the most part, the people coming to live on the Moon were either low-class workers with little to lose, or the rich aristocracy looking for a new and extravagant way of life. Unfortunately the latter outweighed the former and Heliopolis became a city for the sake of being a city. Only a small part of the population worked whilst the rest lived as if they were on vacation, which many of them were. Over 16% of the houses being built in the city were only inhabit for several months, after which time their denizens returned home leaving their lunar dwellings to await their next vacation.

The inefficiency caused by this gave the program even greater deficits than had been originally intended. The Discateria was going to cut funding to the program to less than 10%, in order to make room for the Ares Program, if not for the intervention of Emperor Raphael to put even more funding in to solve the problem. This was done by buying back all the lunar houses of the rich, shipping in more workers of all kinds, without their families this time, and housing them in the large buildings originally intended for the rich. Pay for all Luni was then stopped and a somewhat platonist economic system was established where food, shelter and clothing were provided on ration by Rome. Furthermore, a deal was made with all the workers that could only be cashed in after 9 years and that would grant them all their own home on the Moon with their entire family unit. Though the government would keep their promise, there was still deep resentment in the population as the Mars colony began to receive special treatment from the government during the 70's.

With the housing situation covered for the time being, 1969 had room to begin a massive industrialization of the city. An additional six smelting plants were built alongside two carbon nanotube factories. The latter relied upon imports of raw graphite from Earth, supplemented by some mined on the lunar surface. To further solve the job and funding shortage, most of the additions to the city from that year relied as little on automation as possible, instead utilizing the vast unemployed workforce of the colony. That year would also see the construction of the Hydroponics Nexus, a large three story building housing sufficient hydroponics bays to feed over 6,000 people.

One of the most vital facilities added to the city were therapeutic cloning farms, bought from the Inca, that allowed the easy production of fine meats without the need of transporting animals up into space.

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