Starflight: The Plane That Couldn't Land (1983) - full transcript

The fictional story of the first "hypersonic" commercial passenger plane, which can make the flight from New York to London in a mere four hours. On the maiden flight of this plane, a minor disaster occurs resulting in the plane actually leaving the Earth's atmosphere and orbiting around the globe. A lack of heat-resistant tiling prevents the plane from simply re-entering the atmosphere. With oxygen (and therefore time) running out, the crew of the plane and the crew on the ground must figure out a way to return the plane and its passengers to safety. - stop by if you're interested in the nutritional composition of food
Starflight control.

We have 24 hours
to liftoff
and counting.

BOWDISH: You're at
53,000, Josh.

Speed coming up
to Mach 2.

JOSH: Everything
checks out, Bowdish.

A perfect ride.

You're at 54,000.

Fire the rockets.



Level off! Level off!

I've still got
four seconds.

No way. Level off!
You're over shooting.


JOSH: Too much thrust!

I can't reduce
the angle of climb!

Damn it, Bowdish!
We've got a mismatch!

Exactly the same thing
happened to Cody!

You know something?

You ought to
stop being a pilot and
stick to plane design.

I don't know.

I don't know,
it's not right.
The rockets...

Yeah, the rockets have
been more than right.

On 34 test flights.

If we could just
get them on the ground
computer control.

Josh, Josh,
you know how long
that would take?

A week!
Less if we kick it hard.

Hey, listen, genius,
this thing flies tomorrow.

Maybe it shouldn't.

I really think
you need some rest.
You're wiped out.

Seriously, go home
and get some sleep.

And stop worrying.


You remembered.


I figured if I didn't
come and get you,
you'd never come home.

I was...Just leaving.

Good night, Elliot.Just leaving.
Good night, Elliot.

Good night, Nancy.

Good night, Josh.

We were testing
the rockets again.
I don't know.

Q.T. ON PHONE: Hello?Q.T.?


Just thought
you'd like to know

that Josh Gilliam
is still making
postponement sounds.

I'll handle
Josh Gilliam.

I'm sure you can, sir.

hypersonic transport plane,
Starflight One,

which will travel
higher and faster

than any airplane
has ever flown.

So, tonight,
with wonder,

the eyes of the world
will be onStarflight One

as it makes history by...[TURNS OFF RADIO]

What's all this
about Josh?

You been talking
to him again?

No, Dad.

I just know that
Josh feels that
we should postpone.

Maybe we should
listen to him.

Josh Gilliam will have
us improve Starflight
to the point

that it's the most
improved aircraft that
never got off the ground.

You know what I had
to promise Washington

to get some tax breaks
and financing?

I know, Dad.

Not to mention
the Thornwell 20 million

that's riding
on the flight tonight.

I just don't see the harm
in a few weeks' delay.

When are you going
to grow up?

I can just see
those headlines now
if we postpone.

Well, say something,

Say something!

Fine, Dad.

takes off tonight
as scheduled.


Starflight control.

Everything going smoothly
as we move toward liftoff

in 12 hours
and counting.

There is no such thing
as an ungodly hour
today, Felix.

Today's the big day.

I just wanted to see
if you needed
any more information

before you went
on the air.

Such as, my dear?

Such as,
the passenger list

is made up of people
from all across the country,

demographically chosen.

Shall I spell that for you?

That's really marvelous.

Half a Noah's Ark with
one of everything.

Speeding through the air
23 miles above the Earth

at 4,000 miles an hour.

[SCOFFS] I wonder
what Noah would think.

Felix, what can I do

to get you
to give Starflight
an even break?

If that's a proposition,
I accept.

I'll bet you do!

You've been accepting it
for years

in your dreams.

And what dreams. Whoo!

All right, the least
I'll accept is a drink
before we take off.

It's a deal. Bye.

Good morning,

Mmm. Looks lovely.

Everything's cold.

I'm sorry.
But I had to
make that call.

It's very important.

You don't talk
to Daddy like that.

Lori, your daddy and I
are divorced,

and it breaks my heart
that it still upsets you.

We love you very much.

I've heard how
you talk to him.

Felix? Come on!

Felix and I joke around.
You've heard us for years.

That's how I deal
with people.

It's part of my job.

Part of your job?

Aren't we supposed to
be having fun? Mmm?

We're going
to Australia.

A couple
of kangaroos, huh?



That's my girl.

Better pack.

Why? We're not going
till 7:00 o'clock tonight.

I wouldn't want you
to be late

and mess up
your whole job.

Fasten your seatbelts,

It's gonna be
a bumpy ride.

nine hours and 30 minutes
to liftoff and counting.


Well, how is it?

Janet, what ever happened
to your thing for omelets?

What ever happened
to cotton candy?

What ever happened to us?

Is it so bad?

Nice house,
out of the smog.

And a husband who
spends all of his time
in the sky

even when he's here.

What do you think about
when you're up there, Cody?

Oh, I don't know.

Wars I've been in,
Presidents I've flown,
people I love.

Do I fit in that
last category, Cody?

Not today, Janet, please.

Yes, but tonight...
Tonight you're Superman,

flying all the way
to Australia in two hours.

I haven't meant
to hurt you.

Well, you have.


By tiptoeing around me
like you think

I'm going to break
into 1,000 pieces

if you just tell me
what you're feeling.

I don't...
I don't know
what I'm feeling.

Six hours and 30 minutes
to liftoff and counting.


It's me Freddie.

Surprise, huh?
Guess what?

I'm going to be in Sydney
for the launch.

That's right, old chum.

I'm on Starflight.

I'll be in Australia
a good two hours

before you launch
the satellite out there.

How's everything
at your end?

Hey, pretty good, mate.

Listen, everything looks
pretty good down here.

Some small delays,
but safety check's starting
in about an hour.

We get
that communications
satellite up there,

and the sky's the limit.

I've already got bids
on two-thirds of
the telecommunications pods.

More to come.

Hey listen, Freddie.
What's this I hear
about the Chinese?

Well, they've got a right
to talk to the world too,
don't they?

What are they
gonna do?

Beam down
fortune cookies? [LAUGHS]


Nope, I don't know
which is the bigger
news event,

or Freddie Baron,

Am I crazy?

Not so I noticed.

I'm a scientist.

I'm supposed to
deal in specifics,

and I'm being spooked
by a feeling.

The rockets again?

The rockets again.

Josh, you told me
that the only one

who could handle them
was Cody Briggs.

He's the best there is,

but he is no match
for a computer.

Now, am I
being difficult?

No, you're being Josh.

I mean, the computers
don't show any no-nos.

The tests were fine.
Everything was...

You look wonderful!

You ought to sleep
in a gray suit.


Hello, Doppler.

Good day to you,
Mr. Thornwell.

Mr. Bowdish said
to tell you
he's waiting for you.

Thank you.And congratulations, sir.

To all of us.

Elliot, is there anything
to Josh's fuss
about postponement?

Oh, no, it's...
It's too remote.

You'd better show me.

Starflightis an airplane.
It's not a spaceship.

It was designed to operate
in a gravity field.

Take a look at this.

See, before the booster
rockets are cut off,

that thing is
moving at better than
half a mile a second

straight out
towards space.

What Josh is worried about
is a possibility of a slip

that could
lift Starflightright out
of the atmosphere.

And you and I know
that can't happen.

Yeah, but supposing
it does,

what does that do
in terms of
cabin pressure?

Well, you'd have
a pressurized craft

pushing against
the nothingness
of a zero atmosphere.

So, if there's
any structural flaw...


Starflight One is two hours
from liftoff and counting.

Other cabins have
been outfitted

for the news teams
that have formed

an international crew
to cover this event.

Starflight is operated
through a complicated network
of computer banks.

It took two years
to program the software
for these computers.

Your father
would like you
on his far right.

So, what's new?


Josh! Come on.
You almost missed
your own flight.


Mr. Thornwell.That's right.

Okay, shake hands again.
Very nice.

I understand you're
having a few...

Well, we won't
call them troubles,
but some qualms.

Well, uh...

Josh, you give me
one shred of evidence

that this magnificent plane
of yours is not ready
to take off,

and I'll cancel
the flight.

Smile, Josh.

I would prefer it
if the rockets

were under
ground control, yes.

But she is ready
for her maiden flight,
isn't she?

Well, uh...

Now, will the two
Mr. Thornwells,
come with me?

What if he would've
said no flight?

Then Mr. Joshua Gilliam
would have missed the plane.

Excuse me just a moment,
I'll be right back.


Dad, you remember
Joe Pedowski.

Headed up our
electric systems?

Oh, yes, of course,
you won the employees
drawing, didn't you?

Yes, sir.
My first flight ever.

Twenty years in aircraft
and I'm still afraid of
going up in a plane.

[LAUGHING]Happens all the time.

Hmm, ferocious Felix?

What happened to
our assignation?

Well, I'm afraid
it's going to have
to be on board.

Well, that's not
very cozy.

Well, the rumors
I've been hearing
are true.

My lips are sealed.

She's beautiful.

Erica Hansen.

Yes, she is.

[SIGHS] I really
don't care much
for beautiful women.

She looks nice, though.

Is she?

I thought so.

Starflight One is the first
hypersonic transport plane

to be launched
into service.

The first aircraft...

You don't seem
very excited, Hal.

I mean,
this flight's going
to make history,

and we're on it.

Marrying you, sweetheart,
makes even Starflight
take a back seat.

in Australia.

And I've never even been
to the San Diego Zoo!

You know they have
koala bears there?

You know,
I could really get
to love you?

Wasn't that Mrs. Briggs
we saw with Captain Briggs?

So, that's what's
bugging you, huh?

Well, was it?

Yes. It was Mrs. Briggs.

And yes, I like Cody.

And no.
You don't have any right
to stand in judgment of me.

And I want you
to stop it.

Right now.

One hour and 15 minutes
to liftoff and counting.


Oh, thank you.

Miss, could you
do something about
my shaving kit?

Surely.Thank you.

May I use the telephone,

May I get that
for you?


Do you know that I'm
the one who called you
in Baton Rouge?

You have a dry
good store, right,
Mrs. Harvey?

and a small newspaper,

The Christian Reporter,
it's a weekly.

Is that real?

Oh, of course not.
It's a fabulous fake.


My daughter, Lori.
Mrs. Harvey.

Well, hello.Hello.

And if you get cold,
the purple shawl's
in that bag.

Okay? Bye.

You must be very proud
of your mother.

Thornwell ground,
this is Starflight One.

We are ready
for a preflight check.

Hey, Josh.Hi.

This is ground.
That's a negative,

We're about to
go on hold.

We're at 16 minutes
from liftoff and holding.

There'll be
an hour delay.

Two passengers
coming on board.

The Australian Ambassador
and his wife.

Wait a minute.
Didn't I read that
he just died yesterday?

We're shipping him
back home.

Special request from
the White House, no less.


If you gentlemen
will excuse me.

I'm going to
buy myself a drink.

Sorry you can't join me.Yeah.

Ladies and gentlemen,
this is Captain Briggs.

[OVER PA] Just to show you
that hypersonic aviation
isn't all that different,

we've got ourselves
a delay.

The White House
has requested

that we take on
one more passenger,

who'll be here
in about one hour.

Sorry for the delay.

We hope we won't
inconvenience you
any longer than that.

Ladies and gentlemen,

we're sorry for
the inconvenience.

The flight attendants
will be bringing
the drink carts around

to make the hour fly by.


It's Freddie.

We've got about
an hour delay here.

Weather's closing in
anyway, mate,

so no sweat
about your delay.

Couldn't get the rocket
off today anyway.

Maybe not
for another week.

A week! Come on,
we'll lose everything.

What's the weather
like now?

Well, it's still
pretty good,

but our launch permit
is three hours from now
after Starflight'sdown.

That's straight
from NASA, Freddie.

And the Aussies
have honored the request.

I've told you that
we've got money
out there,

but we don't
collect anything
unless we can prove

that we can get this thing
off the ground.

On time.

Well, you can talk
them around, Freddie boy,
you're good at that.

That's bull...

I want the rocket
in the air. Now!

Well, what about
the permission?

I'll take care of that.

You just
get the rocket off.

Well, I'll see
what I can do.

That's not good enough!
Do it, Bud.

Launch it! Now.

All right, mate.



Would you like
some more coffee?

You still plan
on going back
when we land?

Lori's got school.


It's pretty tough,
isn't t?

I mean, we're not...

We're not even
a triangle.

What are we,
we're a quadrangle?

Four of us.

I can't cut down my team.

She's a lot taller
than I thought.

She thought you were
very beautiful.

That's very kind of her.

Excuse me.

Can I...

Delta launch,

eight, seven,
six, five, four,

three, two, one.


Starflight One on hold.

One hour and 15 minutes,
and still holding.

I'm very sorry
about your husband,
Mrs. Winfield.

Thank you.

We're just waiting
for another take off
clearance from NASA.

It shouldn't
be too long.


Bowdish here.

Ground control. All systems go

Thank you.

We're go.

Wake up, Starflight.

You're clear for takeoff.

Okay, gentlemen,
let's do it.

Hey, Chief's going fishing.


Wouldn't take off
without my lucky hat.

Ladies and gentlemen,
Starflight Oneis cleared
for takeoff.

DEL: 80 knots.

10,000 feet.

140 knots.

8,000 feet.

160 knots.


Ignite rockets.

Congratulations, Josh.

Positive rate
of climb established.

Good job.

Read it out, Del.

DEL: 79,000. Mach 2.3.

80,000. Mach 2.4.

We've got you coming up
to Mach 3, Cody.

The announce tape
rolls then.

Ladies and gentlemen,
we've just passed Mach 3.

Which means
we're climbing now

at three times
the speed of sound.

If some of you
are thinking I ought to
be minding the store

and not yakking
with you,

you're right and I am.

This is a taped message...

FELIX: Jean-Pierre.Yeah, Felix.



What did he say?

He said he hopes
luck has nothing
to do with it.


We'll be traveling
at that speed

for one hour
and 50 minutes

whenStarflight One
will touch down
across the world

in Sydney, Australia.


That's all there is to it,
ladies and gentlemen.

Millie and Andrea will
be coming around

to see if you are
thirsty or hungry,

but I suggest
that you imbibe quickly

because you'll soon be
overrun by news people

sending back taped
and live reports

not only to the United States
and Australia...Good luck.

...but just about
every other country
in the world.

This should help.

You may have to
bring the whole bottle.


You, too, huh?

Nope, airplanes
don't bother me.

Chris, wait up.

There's been
a Delta launch
from Australia.

Angle of ascent,
45 degrees.

Any problems?

We're still tracking.

But it could come close
to the HST's flight plan.


We're tracking
a Delta launch that
didn't clear with us.

She's moving in an arc
that's characteristic of
a second stage malfunction.

Now, if she malfunctions
there's no telling
what course she'll take.

Where's the feed?

From NASA.

Some kook's got
a Delta rocket
moving toward us.

Starflightto ground.

Go ahead, Cody.

We'd like permission
to let NASA
take us through this.

That's affirmative, Cody.

NASA, we're all yours.

We're watching you
like a hawk, Starflight.

Now, when we took off...

Here's Los Angeles.

It may have felt to you
as if we were going
straight up.

Well, we were.
Just like a missile.

And that's because
this craft is powered
by rockets.

We use that rocket power
to attain an altitude
of 100,000 feet.

At which point,
we were going

at a speed of
approximately four...
Mach 4.

That's about
2,500 miles per hour.

There's gotta be
something you can do.

There's not
a bloody thing I can do.

The automatic
sequence control
didn't complete.

The third stage rockets
aren't firing, mate!

But you've got to
give it every chance.

Don't let them
blow it.

Don't. Please.

BUD: Safety ground command
is turning purple.

Bud, don't let
them destruct it.

Look, mate,
we don't have
a bloody third stage!

Bud, you destruct it,
and I'm going to
lose everything.

I mean, everything.

We don't have any choice,

You've got to
stop them somehow,
stop 'em.

BUD: Destruct the rocket.


She's gone.

Yeah, well,
their timing stinks.

the missile's
been destroyed.

that mean for us?

A million pieces
of space junk
headed towards you

at 8,000 miles an hour.

How close?

At your speed,
everything's close.

I'm out of
my element, Chris.
What's my move?

CHRIS: We can't
pin the debris.

Not sure you can manage
lateral traffic avoidance.

Give me my move, Chris.

pull up and climb
at your best rate.

That means the rockets. preparation for landing
in Sydney.

Ladies and gentlemen,
this is Captain Briggs.

Please return
to your seats immediately

and fasten
your seat belts.

It couldn't be weather
at this altitude, could it?

All right, Del, hit it.

We're at 145,000.

You should be over debris
in five seconds.


What's going on, man?

I don't know.

Stand by to level off
and return to 120,000.

Standing by.

Okay, Starflight,
level off.

Standby to leveled off,
kill rockets.

Rockets are still burning.


We must've
taken a hit.

Rocket control wiring.

Thornwell ground,
this isStarflight One.

We think we've
taken a hit.

We've lost all controls
to rocket thrust.

We cannot
kill the burn, over.

Cody, we've got you
at 160,000 and climbing.

CODY: How long
until the rockets
burn out on their own?

Two minutes
and four seconds.

We're an airplane,
not a space ship.

You know where
that'll push us?

Yeah. Straight up through
the atmospheric lid.

450,000 feet
into space.

Kill the burn, Cody.

Kill the burn.

340,000 and climbing.

Bowdish, this is Starflight.
How much time to burnout?

Twenty-four seconds.

When do they hit space?

450,000 feet.

CODY: 380,000.


DEL: 431,000.

How long to bum out?

Fifteen seconds.

Me might make it.




How much time,

Seven seconds.


Four, three...


BOWDISH: One. Burnout.

We're in orbit.

Eighty-seven miles up.

End of ride.

Ladies and gentlemen,
this is your captain.

We are not in
any immediate danger.

We are all weightless,
so until we get some
more information,

please stay
in your seats
with belts fastened.

Kind of get
everything loose
fastened down,

we'll appreciate it.
Thank you.

Will Josh Gilliam
and Erica Hansen

please come
to the flight deck?

You all right?

Yeah.Let's go.

Grab on.


CODY: Thornwell ground,
this isStarflight One.

We have made
a preliminary check.

There are no injuries.

Fifty-nine of us
are alive and well,

waiting for
your instructions.

Where the hell
did everybody go?

Cody, this is Bowdish.

You realize that, uh,

that plane was
not designed to
go into orbit.

So, we don't have
that information
in the computer

and we're going to
need some think time.

[OVER RADIO] Briggs,
Chris Lucas at NASA.

First directive calls for you
to save electrical power.

No hot coffee,
no microwave...

And pull
the transmission plug to
that news bay of yours.

Does that get us home?

We've got a preliminary
that gives you 50 hours

before your orbit

And then things heat up.
How's our air?

This is Schultie, Cody.

We should have a fix
on that for you
in a few minutes.

Cody, you better
check the skin
on that ship.

Pressure looks normal
in all areas.

we'll be tracking you
around the world.

They're talking,
but they're not
saying much.


Let me see what
I can come up with.

Cody, could you talk
to them about
the weightlessness again?

If you keep them informed,
they may not panic.

I better get out there.


Ladies and gentlemen,
this is Captain Briggs again.

I repeat, we are in
no immediate danger.

The aircraft has not
been significantly damaged.

The pressure
in all the cabins
is completely normal.

Thornwell ground control
and NASA

are already
initiating procedures

that will get us
back on course.

We're assured of NASA's
complete cooperation.


In the meantime,
if you'd kind of

get everything loose
fastened down
we'd appreciate it.

Thank you.

This is for the news bay.

In order
to save battery power

we're suspending live
transmission facilities
to Earth.

Well, they pulled the plug,
but that doesn't stop us
using our battery pack.

Why don't you guys
set up over in there?

Godspeed, boss.

This is Felix Duncan
aboard Starflight One.

In orbit,
in a weightless environment,

aboard a ship that
was not designed
for space flight.

We are circling the Earth
once every 90 minutes.

For all intents and purposes,
this is an aircraft that
has already crashed.

Well, they've got
at least 48 hours

before an
uncontrolled reentry.

What have they got
on the outside?



They have 60 hours
of oxygen left?

That's borderline.

What are you saying?

I'm saying
it's borderline.

There's not enough oxygen
for that many people

for that long a period
of time.

Do I have to
spell it out for you?

The only way we're going
to get that thing down here

is to reactivate
the booster rockets.

But the controls
are locked.

All the fuel was
used up on the burn.

I know that.
And Chris Lucas of NASA

is doing
a feasibility study

on having
the space shuttle Columbia
replenish the fuel.

She's going to
need a heat shield

to reenter
the atmosphere.

I'm working on that,

Excuse me.

Refuel the rockets?

Lucas, you're crazier
than I am!

What have you got,
a tank full
of liquid hydrogen

stashed up here?

CHRIS: It's Columbia, Briggs.

She'll be making
the delivery.

Her crew will
refill your tank with
the liquid hydrogen.

We're getting ready
to the send

the space shuttle
Columbia up to you
right now.

Our best team is
at Canaveral.

It's chief honcho
is Captain Kenny Herrera.

He'll pilot the ship.

Thank God
we've learned how
to get them up fast.

Liftoff will be
in two hours.

Give it a shot.

Del, check the cargo bays,
see that everything
is still secured.

We're orbit plus 45.

We've just gone halfway
around the world.


DEL: I've finished
the inspection.

We have a damaged strut
in B cargo hold.

Seal's going.

If we close her off,
we lose that much air.

B cargo?

That's at least 10%.

We lose four or five hours.

Even if Columbia
does find us,
how do we get back?

Without a heat shield...

We don't.


We got liftoff.

Columbia's on its way up
to you,Starflight.

Columbia to Houston.
We have target in sight.


Is that ever

Oh, boy!

Shall we do it?

Ready to refuel them.

when we're ready to feed,

you release
the number three
fuel hatch.

We copy.

Captain Briggs,
I'm ready to feed.

That's affirmative.

LINDA: Ready,
Captain Herrera.

Start pumping.

Fueling completed,
Captain Briggs.

Closing hatch.

Returning to Columbia.

Could you take a look
at our rocket bay?

We may have sustained
some damage.


LINDA: Captain Briggs,
you were right.

Your external
rocket system's
control line is split.

How long to
make the splices?

Sir, this is a maze
I'm looking at.

I'll consult
with Captain Herrera.

For now, I'd cut
the power feed

to this line,
Captain Briggs.

We copy.

If we could find
another configuration,

a different angle
to reduce friction
to a minimum,

we just might be able
to affect reentry.

I mean,
she'd heat up,

but she might
come through.

Then figure it out.

[SIGHS] Well, we can't.

What about NASA?

NASA would need
the performance

of the design
and they're just not
in the computer.

You see, we ordered Josh
not to put them
in the computer.

Internal security.

I mean, we've never
had a conventional aircraft
in a reentry mode before.

90% of this maneuver
depends on the instincts
of the person

who designed the system,
and that's Josh.

Columbia carries
an airlock.

They could get him
and bring him back.

It seems ironic,
you two planning a way
to bring Josh home

when if you had just
listened to him
in the first place.

Cody, we think we can
jury-rig our airlock

to fit over
your sectioned-off
equipment compartment.

There'll be
spacesuits inside.

We'll be bringing
the airlock over

to pick up Josh Gilliam
at NASA's request.

We copy.

I guess we better
make sure it works

before we risk
Josh Gilliam.

I'm the only one here
who wrote on
his school application

that he wanted
to be an astronaut.

Oh, listen, Pete...Case closed!

Captain, you better speak
to Josh.

All right, Pete.


Cody, we're here.

All right, I'll patch
you over to Ray.

[ON PHONE] Pete,
this is Ray Barstow.

The guy in
a funny white suit.

You hear me okay?


On voice cue you'll open
your compartment hatch,

enter the airlock,
then you close
Starflight's hatch.

LINDA: Ready, Pete?

PETE: Yeah.

Sorry, all the great
space walk lines have
already been used.

See you soon.

All right, I'll secure
the compartment.

Have a good trip.
I'll catch the next one.

Piece of cake.

LINDA: Open the
compartment hatch.


I'm in the airlock
about to suit up.

RAY: Get the suit
and helmet on as quick
as possible, Pete.

Let us know
when you've got
the suit on.

PETE: I'm going
as fast as I can.

Your funny white suit's
all right.

I always wanted one.

RAY: Yup, it goes
with anything.

Make sure you shut
the airlock hatch, Pete.


RAY: Pete,
is your hatch shut?



Pete, I'm so sorry.

No more guinea pigs.

There's got to be
another way to
get you off.

All right,
but this time
it's just me.

No more guinea pigs.

Our transmission frequencies
are being monitored.

The whole world
knows about Pete.

I think you have to
let people see that
we're still all right.

Return power
to press bay.


about 39 hours
of oxygen left,

unless their orbit
breaks down

and they reenter
before then.

Damned if I can
figure this out.

Josh is the guy
to get everyone down.

We got to figure a way
to get him down.

Schultie, give me
a reading on that
oxygen clock, will you?

Thirty-six hours,
14 minutes.

REPORTER: We've got
the pilot's wife.

That's Janet Briggs,
grab your gear.

Have you been in contact
with your husband?

No, I haven't.
I'm sorry.

When did you first hear
about the disaster?

Excuse me,
I have got to...

Do you have
any children?

I'm sorry, I'm sorry,

I'm Janet Briggs,
can you let me through?How does it feel

to have a world famous
husband in orbit?Please?

This information will
only help you
to tell the public.

[REPORTERS CLAMORING]Please, I can't see
with that light.

Will you please
let me through?

How are you?

I'm okay.

I appreciate you,
you know.

Always did.
It just seems easier
to tell you now.

Janet showed up
at ground control.

I would've
expected that.

Didn't you?

I guess.

Every 45 minutes.

Turn the lights on,
turn 'em off.[SWITCH CLICKING]

It's the only entertainment
on this $50 million
flying coffin.

This is not our coffin.

We are going
to get back.

Cody? Won't we?

Lucas, Cody here. Yeah, Cody.

Chris, if some kind of
air tight container

could be rigged
inside the luggage bay,

could it be used
to transfer someone?

That's affirmative, Briggs.

What are you thinking?

Erica, tell Josh to
pack his toothbrush.
He's going home.

Yes, sir.

Look, here's how maybe
it can go down, okay?

The luggage compartment
is sealed off from
the rest of the ship.

We load Josh
into the casket,

and the two astronauts
open the compartment
and pull Josh to Columbia.

Wouldn't he
need oxygen?

The whole operation
will take four
to five minutes.

There's enough
oxygen in there
to sustain him.

Let's suppose that thing
isn't really airtight.

At best, all Josh
would have would be
a few cubic feet of air

and what's left
in his own lungs.

Martin's got a point.

Even a hairline fracture
or a pinhole.

Look, I think Josh
knows the risks
better than we do.

Houston to Columbia.
You still there, Kenny?

What do you need, Chris?

We might put you down
at Thornwell in California.

Any problems?

Is that launch facility
of theirs operational?


Okay, as long
as we have our
own ground crew.

Can you handle
the Ambassador's wife?

There's no other way?

Look, we ran out of
moral niceties

when those rockets
wouldn't turn off.

If you don't believe me,
go ask your passengers

how they feel about
swapping a dead man

for a chance to
get out of here alive.

We don't have time
to think of another way,
we just don't.

I'll talk
to Mrs. Winfield.

Good girl.

Cody. Yeah, Cody here.

Linda and Ray are
starting across to you.

They'll open
the luggage bay hatch

and take delivery
of the casket
with Josh in it.

When you
give me the word.

That's a roger.

We're still
losing pressure.

I can't figure out where.

What about
B cargo hold?

[SOBBING] It's not right.

Oh, please.

It's not right.

There's no other way.


CODY: You'll get your tush
frozen out there.

Not exactly my idea
of first class
transportation, no.

Help! Help!


About four minutes' worth
of air in here.

Shouldn't take
longer than that.

You could hold your breath
for another three,
if you're in shape.

I'm not.

LINDA: We're at
the luggage bay hatch.

Ready to
take the casket.

Check the seal.


No light leaks.

Hermetically sealed.

I don't suppose they've
ever had a consumer

Let's go.

There's a hole
the size of my fist.

I didn't have
a choice, Cody.

I sealed off
the entire cargo hold.

You did right.

the luggage bay.

Now we lose the air
in the luggage compartment.


You ready?

My copilot's decompressing
the luggage compartment now.

In 30 seconds,
we'll open the hatch.

Josh is halfway
to Columbia now.



Are you all right?

There was a leak.

What did you do?


Remember the story
of the little Dutch boy
and the dike?


We're figuring
how much air you lost.

Look, Schultie,
we got two compartments
sealed off.

Now, that means lost air
which means lost time.

I want...

There must be millions.


All of it wouldn't
buy us out of this mess.

this is Bowdish
at control. Over.

Go ahead, Bowdish.

We calculate you've lost
about nine hours
of your air supply. Over.

Roger, Bowdish. Out.

You'd better reset
that clock.

They've got 17 hours,
and eight minutes
of oxygen left.

Well, if Josh doesn't
come up with a miracle,

we can take our pick.

Suffocate or burn up
on reentry.


That's touchdown
for Columbia.

Back from rendezvous with
Starflight One in space.

What about reentry?

We're projecting
21 hours.

Well, I guess
we don't get
to choose.

The air will run out
four hours sooner
than that.


Give me a plane deck.

Rotate it.


What else you got?

Captain, our cupboards
are just about bare.

You fellows got
a catering truck

you can put
some wings on?

Sure Briggs,
if you don't
mind your caviar

coming out of
a toothpaste tube.

We'll be sending it to you
the next time we can get
Columbia up.

What the hell is that?


Elliot! Elliot!

What is it?

What does that
look like to you?


What, a tunnel?

The Universal
Docking Device?

Could be.

It could work.

What've you got
in there on it?

FELIX: We have
just been told what
the rescue operation is.

It involves
a Universal Docking Device
built by Thornwell Aviation

as part of
its space program.

This device
will be carried up

by that heroic
space traveler,
the shuttle Columbia,

about to be launched again
from southern California.

As we wait,

each passenger is
surely wondering

if home and loved ones
will ever be seen again.

Yet, there's hope
and a triumph

of the human spirit up here
onStarflight One.

As for
the rescue itself,

the Docking Device
has been altered

to conform
to the hatch design
ofStarflight One.

in tandem with NASA.

Well, the waiting's over
for you at least.

You haven't
lost him, Janet.

Yes, I have.

Ten, nine, eight, seven,

six, five, four,

three, two, one, zero.


Columbia has liftoff!

On its way
toStarflight One.

CODY: As you know,
we've got some
decisions to make.

Including us,
there's 57 survivors.

Columbia only has
its flight deck
quarters pressurized.

They figure they can
squeeze in 20 at a time.

Three jumps in all.

Six of us, as crew,
will be the last
to leave.

We'll have a drawing
on the decision
for the passengers.

Now, these people will
be floating through

a snaking tunnel
50 miles up,

getting into
the nearest thing
we have to a spaceship

and gliding
to a landing
without engines.

It's going
to be scary.

We've got to
play it down.

They're already numb
with fear.

I think some of them
are probably in shock.

Somebody could panic.

What happens
if a piece
of space debris

pops the skin
of the tunnel?

Amy, prepare the lists
for the drawing.


Jack Bernard,

Mrs. Edward Harvey,

Mrs. Lucille Hunt,

Frederick Baron,

Scott McGee,

Hal Paressi.

Okay, that's the 20.

It's been decided
that you will go across
five at a time.

The five will be
decided by the 20.

I'll need your decisions
right away.


Del, there are
the blue plate
specials you ordered.


Okay, everybody.

Now, you're going to
be kind of pulling
yourselves across

on a white nylon rope
inside the chute.

I'll go first,
just follow me.

Don't be afraid.
You'll be fine.

Now, watch your heads.

MAN OVER PA: The first group
of five hasn't come out
of the tunnel yet.

Still waiting, Houston.

RAY: Okay, now if
you five do as well
as the last five did,

you're going to
make a hero out of me.

Easy we go.


That's touchdown
for Columbia,

carrying the five
rescued passengers
fromStarflight One.

Josh, it wasn't
your fault.

That conduit
was still hot.

Space Shuttle Columbia...

You got five
of them down.

You can bring
the rest home.

I just killed
five people!

You didn't kill them.
You tried to save them.

Ah, what's better?
Killing five at a time,
or all at once?

They have 12 hours
of oxygen left.

You are the only chance
they've got!

Don't you understand?
I would need a bus to
bring them all back!

Then get them a bus.


There is a way.

We can get most
of them down, anyway.

Culver Air has
a booster tank for
their Mayflower rocket,

which, if my figuring
is accurate,

will fit almost exactly
inside Columbia's
cargo hold.

Put down that phone.
Put it down!

Now, you listen to me,
all three of you.

That gantry out there,

that orbitor
processing facility,

the one that
Columbia's using now.

That represents
$93 million
I've got to eat.

'Cause we lost
the space shuttle
contract to Culver.

And I know how
they did it.

Industrial espionage.

Bowdish, tell Mr. Gilliam
about Bart Culver.

BOWDISH: He's right, Josh.

Bart Culver had
a whole network of
spies working on us.

As a matter of fact,
six of the key design
components were ours.

Those Culver cutthroats,
shafted me for $1 billion.

That was the size
of the contract we lost,
Mr. Gilliam.

And now you expect me
to go crawling back
to Culver,

and have him
reap the praise
and the rewards

for rescuing
my HST project?

Are you telling me
that all those people
up there have to die?

Just so that Bart Culver
doesn't get credit
for the rescue?

What the hell kind
of a...Just one minute, Josh.

You just watch...All right.

Both of you,
get out of here.

Josh, count on
that booster tank.

Excuse me, Q.T.

Yes, get me Bart Culver
over at Culver Industries.

Our position's changed.

Yeah, the force
of the explosion
shifted us around.

Would you care to
join me in a tube
of roast beef?


Suddenly you're funny.

It's the altitude.

We don't have
very long, do we?

Hold me. Please.


I love you.


I won't say anything
to Lori.

Wait a minute.

I love you.

For a long time.

I'm sorry.

I guess I got hung up
on loyalty with Janet.

And probably pity.

I'm sorry I didn't
grab on to you.

Stay close to Lori, huh?

there's just one catch.

Say it, Josh.

The tank can only hold
38 people, maximum.

Some are gonna
have to stay behind.

And we can only
use it once, Cody.

I'm sorry.

Columbia has liftoff.

After a record turn around
of two hours.

BOWDISH: Four hours
and 10 minutes
of oxygen left.

This is Columbia, Houston.

At rendezvous
withStarflight One.

We're about to
send the booster
tank across.

This tank isn't exactly
a suite at the plaza.

The people
on the ground
have it figured

that it will
hold 38 of you.

I believe there are
with your staff and crew
somewhat more than that.

Six of the crew will stay.

And there'll
be three volunteers.


Well, I'd like to
offer my services,
if I may.

Well, I mean
there are things to
be recorded here.

Your courage,

Like you,
I always like to
be in at the finish.


Thanks, Felix.

Now, we need one.

I thought
you needed two more.

I'm about to
draft one myself.

The rest of you
will have to
make the most

of lousy

but only for
a short time we hope.

Mmm. Is this tomato juice
and Tabasco sauce?

No, it's apricots.


For a man who's afraid
of flying,

you sure look
pretty cool to me.

You ran out of booze

and I ran out
of cold sweat.

Joe, you know everything
on this airplane
still functions.

Scram jets,
hydraulic systems,

we've even got fuel.

You know,
the booster tanks
is a two-way street.

It's bringing us
a space suit with
life support systems.

For what?

I want you to
fix the wiring
to the rocket controls.

You're gonna try
and fly this thing back.

Joe, you ever skip
a flat rock across a lake

and watch it skim
and bounce along
on the surface?

I want to give reentry
that kind of shot.

Cody, I have
skipped a few rocks

on a few lakes
in my time,

and I never saw one yet
that didn't sink.

It's one chance
in a million.

Well, so was
this accident.


I am scared out
of my mind

being up here
inside this plane.

And you want me
to go outside?


Oh, no.


I'll need a wire stripper.

And some wire nuts.

And a dry pair of pants
when I get back.

Excuse me.
Excuse me, please.


Excuse me.

Excuse me.

If you don't make it back,
I will never forgive you.

Boy, are we glad
to see you.

I'm glad
we could make it.

Back at you, Ray.

Could you stow that
back there, please?

Let's form
a human chain.


Flashlights are inside
to your left.

Watch your step
and hang on.

I've got
your other volunteer.

Benny, you've got
no responsibility to...

No, no, wait, wait.

Felix and I
see this thing
the same way.

Now, if we happen to
get out of here alive,

we have got ourselves
one hell of a story.


Photographed exclusively
by the one and only
Benny Collins.

Those pictures better
be good.


All 38 aboard.

The tank's separating
fromStarflight now

and returning
to Columbia.

Captain Briggs,
can you seal off

aft of cabin C?

That's affirmative,

We can divert
all remaining air forward.

We'll know pretty quick
how much time
that'll buy you.

Thanks for being
so helpful, Houston.


Columbia will be bringing
those people down,

but we'll be
monitoring you,


Joe's just starting
outside to the rocket conduit.

Tap that vernier jet.

Give me an honest
day's work, Joe.

I've got Joe outside
repairing the rocket cables.

So, if you can crank up
those toys of yours

and give me
the best shot
at reentry.

Look, without
a heat shield

there's no angle
that will work.
It just can't be done.

You got any better idea?

I'll get one.

CHRIS: Houston here.

We've just
got an update on your
time of reentry, Cody.

Starflightwill reenter
the Earth's atmosphere
in 73 minutes.

Captain, it's going
to take me hours
to sort this thing out.

No, it won't, Joe.
You've got to do it
in less than one.

Oh, my God.

All right,
keep it coming.

Come on.



Okay, Captain,
check the primary circuit.

That's a good one, Joe.
That'll do it.

It's all yours now, Cody.

Now, you give me
a good day's work.

If we try to put
this thing back
in the atmosphere,

we're finished.

Now, you tell me,
what have we got
to lose?


What I really need is
a pulling guard running
interference for us.


Put up Columbia.

All right, now,
add a plow wave effect.

All right now,
put Starflightin
right behind her.

Okay, keep her coming.

Come on, closer.


All right, right there.
Okay, hold it.

Schultie, get me NASA.

All we've got to do is
find the right angle.

Hello, Houston.
Yeah, listen.

You got Columbia
touching down here
in about, what...

Forty-seven minutes.Forty-seven minutes.

Do you think
she could make another jump
with minimum processing?

What for?
So she can watch
the burn up?

Can she do it?

Not quick enough.

By the time
she got back up,

there wouldn't be
anything left
of Starflight.

Got anything else
hanging around,

anything up
there already?

Hold on.
We're checking.


Come on! Come on!

XU5 is up doing repairs
on a military satellite.

Can you clarify?

All right, now listen.

You remember
when you used

to have to piggyback
your twin shuttle
to Florida on a 747?

I'm going for
the flip side of that.

Sorry about
the gloom before.

That's all right.

Josh just had
a brainstorm.

Columbia's XU5 is
on her way to us.

Could get here
before we take the dive.

If she does,
we'll maneuver behind
her plow wave

and ride her shadow.

She'll be
our heat shield?

Yeah, if we stay
close enough.

And if we don't pile up
and take both ships out.

Cody...I know.

Columbia's not
big enough.

The wing tips will burn,
a little.

It's crazy!

That it is.

CODY: Recheck your
projected oxygen, Bowdish,

we've got
big problems.

Yes, we know, Captain,
we had an upside

and a downside
in our projections.

Then our readings
are accurate?

We can't make it
to reentry.

Not with nine of you using
the remaining oxygen, no.

Look, if...

If there were maybe
five or six of you...

Look, don't ever stand
where I can see you,

because if you do,
I'll tear you in half.

So help me, God.

Now, if we mean anything
to anyone down there,

then somebody will
get that damn guy out
of the control area

because I don't want
to hear his voice again.

MAN OVER PA: Now returning
from rendezvous
withStarflight One

in space
after a record turnaround.

Columbia has touchdown.

All 38 passengers are safe.

How much oxygen
is left

in those life support systems
on the spacesuit?

Let's check.

CODY: We're sharing
what oxygen's left.
Cockpit's sealed off.

better blow the airlock.

It'll throw you off
aerodynamically on reentry.

That's affirmative.

you're in final orbit
before reentry.

The XU5 is on its way
to rendezvous with you.

It will be
your heat shield
on reentry.

We're at three minutes
10 seconds from reentry.



If this thing really is lucky,
you'd better put it on.

Ninety seconds
to rendezvous.


MAN OVER PA: Two minutes
to reentry interface.

One minute...

Glad to see you.

DEL OVER RADIO: One minute
40 seconds to reentry.

CHRIS: Twenty seconds
to rendezvous.

One minute 20 seconds
to reentry.

NASA, where the hell
are they?

Ten seconds
to rendezvous.

[OVER RADIO] Starflight,
this is Eddie Russell,
Commander XU5.

Preparing for rendezvous.

Russell, we are
55 seconds from reentry.

Roger, we're matching
your descent angle
and your speed.

NASA here,
we're tracking you both.

Starflightis 35 seconds
to reentry.

Reentry will occur at
52 degrees latitude
over the East Siberian Sea.

This is an alert
to Thornwell.

Be on full standby
forStarflight approach.

You are in
priority pattern
for emergency landing.

Twenty seconds to reentry.


Ten seconds to reentry.


We are center
your plow wave,

Five seconds, three,
two, one.


We're not deep enough
in the atmosphere.

I don't have control.

RUSSELL: Ease up,
Starflight, ease up.

I can't.
We need more air
over the wings.

Control surfaces
working now.

We're in your shadow,

Briggs, we're coming
to peak second of
reentry interface.


You're getting roasted.


They're hot.

CODY: Flight level?

DEL: 430,000.

We are at flight
level 390,000.

Standing by
to fire engines.

We have ignition.

To all concerned,
we have completed reentry.

All right!Easy, easy.


With the heat
the wings took,

we're losing the skin
on the wingtips.

I'm starting
to get control
surface oscillation.


Flight level 52,000.

He's dropping too fast.

CODY: I can't pull up
or I'll overstress
the airframe.

Cody, can you try to
ease off the angle
of descent.


CODY: We're falling
too fast.

I'm having trouble

We've lost voice contact.

Cody'll bring her down.

Come on, Schultie,
bring them home.

SCHULTIE: He's still
over the sea.

Just stay up there, Cody.
Stay up.





Let's go.


Tell him...

Tell him I stayed
till I knew he was safe.

Thank you.



First time I ever saw
a rock that didn't sink.

Come on,
I'll buy you guys a drink.



Thank you.