McCauley meets with General Sam Warren near the launch pad. Warren admits that he wouldn’t mind going up to the space station that he is in charge of, but admits that his job is to pick men who serve useful function. McCauley explains that he got the time schedule on the scientists and their projects, and notes that physicist Dr. Horton and biologist Dr. Randolph have both been assigned to the first fifteen-day period together. Warren explains that the committee believed that their projects deserved priority, but McCauley doesn’t believe it’s worth putting the two argumentative scientists in close quarters together. He suggests that they ask one of them to wait until the next fifteen-day period and Warren agrees as long as McCauley can convince one of the scientists to go along with his plan.
McCauley meets with Horton, who explains that the high-frequency patterns he’s studying won’t occur again for two years. He dismisses Randolph’s work but McCauley warns that if Randolph doesn’t agree to take the later shift then the two scientists will have to fight it out.
Next, McCauley goes to see Randolph, who has already seen the schedule and agrees to stay behind. He explains that the shipment of some bacteriological samples have been delayed so he can’t go into space until they arrive.
McCauley and Horton take a rocketship to Space Station Astra. They board and are greeted by Lt. Murphy, the station executive officer. He takes them to the mess hall to meet Lt. Hamilton, the station astronomer, and get a cup of coffee. Horton hints that he may have to stay more than two weeks and then insists on going to work. While Murphy takes Horton to his lab, Hamilton admits that Horton is a top-rate physicist but has a tendency to become obsessed.
Later, Murphy contacts Ground Control but loses visual contact when Horton starts doing his high-frequency studies. Murphy passes on a repeated request from Horton for more equipment, but McCauley overhears Murphy and cancels the request. Irritated that Horton is bypassing the normal requisition procedure, McCauley goes to Horton’s lab and tells him to stop cluttering up the communication lines with repeated request. However, the scientist is too wrapped up in his word to hear what McCauley is saying. The colonel drops the matter and asks whether he’ll have the work done given the fifteen-day time limitation. Horton assures him that he’s doing fine.
As McCauley checks in on Hamilton, Ground Control calls to report that Horton’s requisitions are on the way but a few have been delayed. He also informs them that Randolph will be coming up on the next supply ship. McCauley asks for confirmation, noting that Randolph wasn’t due for five days, but Ground Control admits that he doesn’t know. When Randolph comes on board, he tells McCauley that the samples arrived earlier than he thought. The colonel tells him that he’ll receive complete courtesy and cooperation and expects the same in return. Horton comes in to ask where the missing requisition item are and insists that he needs them now. When he sees Randolph, he asks if his items were omitted due to a weight problem because of Randolph, and McCauley tells them both to put their personal animosities on hold. Randolph says that he understands while Horton leaves without a word.
Later, Murphy informs McCauley that Horton asked him to send a message. McCauley tells him to do so, and then tells Hamilton that Horton is asking for an extension of his time at the station, figuring that Randolph pressured the committee into letting him onboard early so he can do the same thing. When they get the response, McCauley goes to Horton’s lab and tells the physicist he only has two days left because his request for an extension has been denied.
In his lab, Randolph realizes that he’s running a temperature but dismisses it as a mild fever. However, later, Murphy calls McCauley to the command center and informs him that there’s been trouble in the bio lab. Randolph informs them that he’s put himself in quarantine because a new and potentially dangerous virus strain has gotten out of control. McCauley has Murphy shut down the ventilation system and put the rest of the crew through decontamination, and then confirms that Randolph has sufficient oxygen and food supplies. Randolph informs the colonel that there’s nothing he can do and that some radiation source inside of the station caused the virus to mutate.
As McCauley continues with decontamination procedures, Hamilton checks with Horton. Neither one of them can track any new radiation source within the station. Horton’s experiments jam the communication circuits again and Hamilton wonders if Horton’s magnetic frequencies caused the viral mutation. McCauley goes to see Horton, who admits that he may have overlooked the fact that certain electronic frequencies have been known to alter bacteria. The physicist agrees to do what he can.
Horton calls Randolph and says that his high-frequency signals may be causing the viral mutation. Randolph agrees but warns that he can’t bring the specimens or himself to Horton’s lab without contaminating the entire station. Horton goes to McCauley and says that he’s willing to take the risk his contamination to save his fellow scientist. McCauley comes up with a plan to have Randolph don a space suit and go from one airlock to another, avoiding the other sections.
Randolph packs his samples and dons his spacesuit, and McCauley comes to guide him across the outer surface to Horton’s section. They make it to the other airlock and Randolph goes inside while McCauley returns to the command center.
Forty-eight hours later, Warren calls for a status report. Before McCauley can answer, Horton calls to inform them that they’ve found a magnetic frequency that renders the virus dormant, saving Randolph’s life.
Later back on Earth, Horton and Randolph are working together to develop a magnetic frequency that can defeat earthly viruses. McCauley checks in on them and finds the two scientists eager to be working together on their next trip to Astra.
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