Space 1999 was originally intended to be a spin-off series to the earlier Gerry Anderson TV series: UFO. Moonbase Alpha was originally going to be "Moon City", which was a build-up from the smaller moonbase seen in UFO. As the show was originally supposed to be in the same universe, the ships were originally meant to be the UFO interceptors.
These vehicles came from this beautiful concept piece by the legendary concept artist Mike Trim. These vehicles were designed when the Apollo programs were still in recent memory and you can clearly see some stains of NASA style 60s and 70s engineering in here. I do like this design. In case you're not familiar with the way these vehicles intercept UFO's on the show, there is a large one-shot rocket mounted to the front of the vehicle. Often when I am designing vehicles somebody will comment that it looks a bit like a cock. I imagine Mike Trim gets that from time to time.
This design was adapted to the final interceptor design below. As you can see, the penis overtones have been completely removed so there is no chance of anybody saying it looks like it's firing a massive dildo off into space.
These vehicels were originally going to be defending "Space City" but when the show got changed to a new IP the decision was made to re-visit the vehicle design. Mike Trim's original piece was combined with a couple of Chris Foss pieces to come up with something new. Chris Foss concept work on this show is very hard to come by but the image below appears to be his first piece depicting the design that would become the Eagle.
This led to the piece below which shows something much more akin to the Eagle we recognise today.
When you put all of this together you get the beautiful Eagle Transporter. This vehicle was the backbone of the show in so many ways and appeared across the two seasons in many guises, a true utility vehicle. It looked so nice on-screen and I have such fond memories cooing over these things as a kid. Looking at the design now I can see a pretty serious issue: There's nowhere to store the fuel. The vehicle has those lovely bell-shaped rocket engines but nowhere on it's frame to store all the fuel that these kind of engine's need. Unless we presume it's stashed under immense pressure in those tiny ball-shaped pods. In case you've not seen an Eagle on-screen, I should point out that the centre pod is a module that is often switched out across the episodes, so there's no fuel storage in there. I might sound like I'm picking holes but I can get over it - this ship design is one of the classics.
I always got excited seeing the moonbuggies on-screen as a kid and always wanted to have a go in one.
Here's the legendary Nick Allder and Brian Johnson hard at work influencing my childhood (Cheers to my mate Phellim O'Neill who is very good at facial recognition).
So there you have it - The Space 1999 eagle was very nearly the UFO interceptor. Incidentally, there's a UFO movie being made at the moment that's currently scheduled for release in 2013 - if you fancy keeping track, you can find their website here.