On Earth, McCauley and General Barker meet with Dr. Stacy Croydon and Dr. Waring to discuss the asteroid Skyra, which has entered Earth’s gravitational pull and assumed orbit. Waring believes it’s a remnant of the planet between Mars and Jupiter, while Croydon dismisses them as cosmic junk. Barker wants to know if they should do something about it and Waring admits that it will eventually decay and become a meteorite. However, Barker wants to explore the possibility of establishing a space station on it, saving considerable money. He tells McCauley that they will begin with unmanned reconnaissance probes.
The resulting information is studied and scientists determine that it can be used. McCauley worries what will happen if it plummets into Earth’s atmosphere and Waring worries that a large enough chunk could destroy thousands of people. Barker tells McCauley to take Croydon, Major Emery, and Captain Draper to determine how safe it is.
Later, McCauley comes to pick up Croydon at his home and chats with his wife Lynn, who breeds dogs with her husband. She goes to check her husband’s luggage and Croydon assures McCauley that Lynn is behind him. Inside, Lynn quickly covers up her tears with makeup, puts on a brave face, and takes the suitcase to her husband. They share a final kiss and Croydon tells his wife not to worry.
The four-man crew lifts off and set course for the asteroid. As they approach, Croydon is eager to be one of the first men to set foot on an asteroid. McCauley confirms that there’s not enough gravity to hold them to the surface, but it has an iron core that will let them use magnetic boots. They land the rocket and tie it down, and Croydon suits up. McCauley warns him to keep his sun visor down as the asteroid is constantly rotating and facing the sun. McCauley tests the asteroid’s magnetic content and confirms they can walk on it, and then he and Draper tie the rocket down.
Once the rocket is secure, Croydon comes out to get geological samples while Draper and McCauley try to find a level surface to build a station. The men anchor guidelines so that they can find their way back while Croydon looks for samples. He finds a non-ferrous area and reports it to McCauley, who tells him to stay close to the guideline. The colonel then reports to Barker that there is no trace of gravity, making the stockpiling of supplies impossible. He proceeds to plant charges to shatter Skyra into fragments small enough to burn up safely in Earth’s atmosphere.
Once Croydon has his last sample, McCauley orders him back to the spaceship while he sets the timer for ten minutes. However, Croydon opens his sun visor to examine the specimen and drifts up into the sun’s rays. He looks up and is blinded, and then collapses from the pain. As he falls, Croydon smashes his radio.
McCauley detaches the guideline and uses his jetpack to return to the ship and discovers that Croydon isn’t aboard. The unconscious Croydon doesn’t respond and they have less than five minutes until the charges go off. McCauley prepares to return to the detonator and disarm it while Draper searches for the missing scientist. However, McCauley warns that he might not make it in time and tells them to cast off if he isn’t back 30 seconds before detonation. Barker gets on the radio to order McCauley to depart immediately, but the colonel fakes radio static and ignores the order.
With time running out, Draper finds the unconscious Croydon and McCauley tells him to get the scientist back to the ship. It’s too late for McCauley to get back so he has no choice but to try and find the detonator. With ninety seconds left, he tells Emery to blast off as soon as Draper and Croydon are onboard and Emery reluctantly lifts off. McCauley finds the detonator and shuts if off just in time and Emery returns to pick him up while the colonel resets the timer. Once the spaceship is clear, the crew watches as Skyra blows up.
Later on Earth, McCauley comes to see the Croydons. Croydon has recovered his eyesight but is now breeding guide dogs for the vision-impaired because of his experience. The couple offer McCauley one of their puppies for Pete and make him promise to name it Skyra.
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