When the Air Force prepares to build the first space station in orbit, General Robert Hicks is put in charge of the program. He puts Colonel McCauley in charge of training the men who will complete the mission to assemble the sections of the space station. The men who will be traveling into orbit are captains Dan Michaels and Les Forsythe, and lieutenants Bill Smith, Phelps, Ferguson, Simpson, and Wheelwright. McCauley informs the seven men that they will be working, eating, and sleeping together until they choose the four men who will go on the mission.
Hicks approaches McCauley afterward and expresses his concerns about Smith, the youngest man in the outfit. He advises McCauley to take the lieutenant’s age into account before picking his final crew and the colonel agrees. Later, Smith is among those undergoing simulations while hanging in mid-air from a harness. After joking with a couple of workers, McCauley greets Hicks and tells him that he’s chosen Forsythe, Michaels, and Smith. Hicks briefly questions the colonel’s choice of Smith but McCauley insists that he’s the best man for the job.
As Smith leaves for the day, his pregnant wife Paula greets him. McCauley comes over and chats briefly with the expectant mother, who is worried about her husband. The colonel assures her as best he can before they drive way.
Hicks oversees the launch of the station segments into space. McCauley and his team arrive and Hicks wishes them luck before they depart. Their rocket takes off successfully and they are soon in orbit. The crew shuts down the ship and rendezvous with the two rockets. McCauley warns them that they only have a six-hour oxygen supply and has Forsythe stay in the ship while Michaels and Smith unload rocket #2 and McCauley unloads #1.
The men suit up and go outside to begin their work, while Major Hall at Mission Control keeps Hicks advised of the crew’s status. With three hours remaining, Captain Forsythe monitors the operation as McCauley and Michaels fire their jet packs and push the segment toward the one that Smith is working on. He informs Hicks that they’ll be done in thirty minutes. However, as the segments come together, Smith’s sleeve is caught in the airlock coupling. His suit is punctured and McCauley confirms that the only thing preventing a leak is the pressure from the coupling.
Working against time, McCauley has Michaels get him a safety line to secure Smith. Meanwhile, Forsythe briefs Mission Control and Hicks calls in the engineering safety crew. They start working on an escape lock and prepare it for launch. Meanwhile, Smith starts to panic and McCauley tells him that when it happens, it’ll be over so quick he’ll never know it.
With 55 minutes remaining, McCauley and Michaels return to the ship and wait for the relief rocket. Smith tells them to abandon him if they run low on air, but McCauley reminds him that he’s in charge of the mission.
With 47 minutes remaining, Emergency Rocket P-3 is ready for launch. Hicks gives the order to launch and they begin the countdown. P-3 departs on schedule and the engineering safety crew informs McCauley that he’ll have to weld the escape lock to the space station shell with Smith inside and then cut around the weld. McCauley assures Smith that help is on the way and has Forsythe take the trapped crewman more air.
The emergency rocket arrives but comes in off-course and doesn’t respond to radio guidance. Hicks warns McCauley that it’s coming in on a collision course and they’ll have to detonate it if they can’t change its course. McCauley tells Hicks that they’re willing to risk the collision, but Hicks orders the detonation of the emergency rocket . The general then tells McCauley to leave at 2200 hours, overriding his objections.
McCauley goes out to bring back Michaels, leaving Smith alone. However, as they reenter the airlock with five minutes remaining, McCauley tells Forsythe to tell Smith not to move. The colonel then takes one of the oxygen tank clamps and applies it like a tourniquet, and then cuts the sleeve between the clamp and the station section. The operation is a success and they bring Smith back to the ship just in time. They strap him in and head back for Earth.
Later, Hicks and continues to object about the youth of their newest crew member... as he and McCauley come to visit the lieutenant’s newborn son. Share this article with your friends