Mary McCauley is watching television at home as her husband makes a broadcast from the moon, explaining that they plan to launch a ship for Venus from there. Her friend Lorrie Sigmund arrives and they sit down to watch as McCauley introduces Dr. Guthrie Durlock, the creator of the Venus rocket. Lorrie immediately takes an interest in Guthrie.
McCauley and the moonbase crew build and launch an unmanned rocket toward Venus. Guthrie McCauley finish the launch outside and Guthrie wanders off to watch the rocket until it’s out of sight. McCauley orders him back and goes back to work, but Guthrie starts climbing up a peak to keep the rocket in sight. By the time the colonel notices, Guthrie is halfway up the peak. McCauley goes to get him but Guthrie knocks some rocks loose and the peak collapses on both men.
McCauley is buried in dust and warns Guthrie back because the ground is unstable. He tells Guthrie to climb up and radio the moonbase for help. However, the scientist refuses, pointing out that if more dust comes down then McCauley will be buried and they won’t be able to find him. Guthrie uses his emergency oxygen supply to blast McCauley loose. Once McCauley is free, he angrily orders Guthrie to go back to the base.
When Guthrie and McCauley return, Sgt. Sparkman and Lt. Walker present Guthrie with a makeshift reward in honor of his heroism in rescuing McCauley. McCauley interrupts them and says that he won’t have anyone on his command who disobeys orders. He tells Sgt. Sparkman to contact earth and have Guthrie sent back on the next supply ship. When Sparkman worries that they can’t complete the work without Guthrie, Guthrie assures them that they can do it without him. However, he points out that the Venus rocket will return in two months’ time and he intends to be there. In response, McCauley tells him that if that happens then he’ll asked to be relieved of command.
Later back on Earth, Guthrie monitors the rocket. It stops signaling before it arrives at Venus, and Guthrie says that they’ll send signals to order it into orbit and then return. Until then, all they can do is wait. McCauley suggests that Guthrie join him at home for a barbeque, assuring him that he won’t hold his disobeying orders against him personally and that they’ll call when they have any news. When McCauley promises that his kids are at camp and that it will only be himself, Guthrie, and Mary, Guthrie agrees.
When McCauley and Guthrie arrive at the McCauleys’ home, Mary comes out with Lorrie. Guthrie is clearly uncomfortable while Mary assures Lorrie that she invited her over knowing that Guthrie would be there. Guthrie gets Lorrie a drink and manages to spill it on her dress. He then tries to escape and check on the grill, but Lorrie asks him about his work and is clearly knowledgeable about the mathematics. Warming up, Guthrie uses the paper tablecloth on the table and fruits to demonstrate freefall paths while Mary and McCauley look on with surprise and amusement.
The base calls and McCauley reluctantly tears himself away to answer it. Meanwhile, Lorrie continues to impress Guthrie with her understanding. She points out that he’s unconsciously drawn a heart to indicate the orbital path of his rocket and suggests it represents his subconscious love for the mystical Venus. As he talks about how they lost the rocket’s signal, McCauley comes out and tells Guthrie that the tracking station has picked up his rocket and it’s heading into outer space. They only have one chance to intercept it. When Guthrie says that he plans to go, McCauley reminds him that he won’t be going. Guthrie insists, threatening to go over his friend’s head to General Douglas, and McCauley tells him again that if that happens then he should choose his own commander because he’ll relieve himself of command.
The ship takes off on schedule with both Guthrie and McCauley onboard, along with Lt. Walker and Major Hardwin. Once they’re underway, Guthrie asks for permission to speak. Once McCauley grants it, Guthrie says that he chose the commander he wanted just as McCauley recommended. Douglas agreed, leaving McCauley with no choice but to obey orders. Guthrie apologizes for his earlier mistake and admits that he’s glad McCauley was more disciplined than he was. McCauley asks what Guthrie will do if the same situation comes up again and the scientist reminds him that Douglas gave Guthrie the final say on his own work as long as he doesn’t endanger the crew. The colonel him that things in space are rarely that clear-cut.
The ship approaches the Venus rocket and they match orbital speeds with it. The lights flicker as they enter an electromagnetic field but there’s no sign of dangerous radiation. However, the electromagnetic forces pull the two ships together and McCauley applies thrust to separate. Guthrie speculates that the Venus rocket picked up an electrostatic charge from Venus’ atmosphere. Since they carry an opposite charge, they can’t get close to the other ship without risking impact. McCauley is ready to write off the Venus rocket, but Guthrie objects given how close they are.
The scientist proposes that he go across and check the magnetic fields despite the risk, since they will face the same decision in the future. When McCauley wonders if he has a death wish, Guthrie says that he doesn’t, and is even more eager to live since he met Lorrie. When McCauley says that he can’t justify the risk, Guthrie agrees and points out that they’ll question his decision to let an important scientist go across. However, no one else can do it. Guthrie assures McCauley that he’ll obey his order if he refuse to let him go. However, the commander of the next mission will have to make the decision that McCauley wouldn’t make. After a moment, McCauley agrees to let Guthrie go.
Guthrie suits up and uses a jetpack to propel himself to the Venus rocket. His suit also has an opposing charge to the Venus rocket and he sticks to it, pinned in place. Guthrie tells McCauley not to risk himself as well, but the colonel suits up and tells Walker and Hardwin that he’ll attach a mooring line to Guthrie and they should pull them both back across. When Guthrie tells McCauley to leave him, McCauley reminds his friend that he didn’t leave him buried in the dust.
McCauley crosses over and the magnetic charge jumps, releasing Guthrie. The vacuum of space insulated the ship from the charge. Guthrie and McCauley then recover the instruments from the unmanned rocket and cross over. That leaves the ship, which is still charged with a million volts of static electricity. Guthrie points out that McCauley should have left him and now they’re all in danger. Now that the two ships have a similar charge, the Venus rocket is repelled away. They have no choice but to attempt reentry and hope the electricity dissipates in the atmosphere. McCauley brings the ship down and the charge grounds itself in the atmosphere.
Later, Guthrie and the McCauleys come over for dinner at Lorrie’s. Lorrie has framed the drawing that Guthrie made of a heart and he insists that it was accidental. He is already planning a new rocket to Mars and starts drawing on the tablecloth, but Lorrie points out that hers is linen. Share this article with your friends