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Men Into Space: Space Trap (1959)
A team on the moon collect samples of the spores they've discovered and blast off for Earth. But soon after booster separation the oxygen level drops and they loose consciousness. A rescue mission is launched from Earth, headed by Col. McCauley. They park alongside the silent ship and McCauley floats over to it. The airlock hatch doesn't open. An inspection of the hull reveals no damage. Pressing his helmet against the hull, he bangs with his fist and listens for a response. Nothing. McCauley returns to his ship.
Ground control instructs the rescue team to cut through the hull, which will vent any remaining oxygen, and retrieve the spore samples. But it occurs to McCauley that if the problem is a faulty carbon dioxide absorber rather than vented oxygen, the crew might still be alive. Ground control concurs. But time is short. The two ships will soon hit the atmosphere. McCauley brings an oxygen line over to the other ship and hooks it up. As oxygen flows McCauley knocks and listens again. Still nothing. He has no way of knowing that inside the stricken ship a crewman is reviving.
He lights his torch, but before he puts flame to metal, one last time, McCauley bangs on the hull. This time the crewman responds in kind. Then again. McCauley informs ground control, then instructs the groggy crewman how to manually open the frozen hatch. He finds the rest of the crew barely conscious but alive. McCauley pilots their ship home.
One of the best episodes, and one of the more prescient, with the rough similarity to the Apollo 13 adventure and their problem with carbon dioxide buildup.
Men Into Space: Water Tank Rescue (1959)
Man in a Can
On the eve of a moon mission Col. McCauley promises Lt. Gordon's son he will return his father safely back to earth. Four men blast off for the moon. On the lunar surface the crew are collecting supply pods dropped from orbit when Gordon becomes suddenly faint. They return to the ship and contact Earth. The doctor says the symptoms sound like coronary thrombosis - a heart attack. Gordon won't survive the stress of even a 2G launch. A water shield, an untested concept to buffer the G-force, might save him, if they had one up there. McCauley says they'll make one.
Returning to the surface McCauley and a crewman weld two empty drums end to end, attach valves and hose connectors, and bring the makeshift contraption on board. The stricken crewman, suited up, is lowered in, the lid is sealed, and the tank filled with water. They blast off. When they return to Earth McCauley receives the thanks of Gordon's family.
A good example of the hard SF slant of the series, with a story built on an interesting technical concept. Not terribly exciting here, but interesting.
A woman's place.
To find out if women are suitable for life in space, with future colonization in mind, an astronaut's wife is invited to join her husband on a three month mission to the moon base. Off they go to the moon. She does the cooking (in an atomic oven) and housekeeping, while the men are out working. But she gets tired of being cooped up alone all day with little to do, and takes to suiting up and stepping out of the cramped igloo to frolic in the low lunar gravity. One day she is found gone and doesn't answer her radio. Col. McCauley orders everyone into the search. She is found napping on a rock, and had neglected to turn on her radio.
Hubby is miffed. She shouldn't be out without telling someone, and no one is allowed out alone at all. The couple argue. He wants her sent back to Earth. She wants to stay. Then he decides she's staying, and now she wants to leave. "Women," says a crewman. And he and McCauley roll their eyes. McCauley finally settles the argument. She can stay on the moon. And he orders the husband--against his wishes, he has real work to do--to accompany his wife on her jaunts.
On their first outing together he kicks a big rock in their path, sending it flying in a high, lazy arc. They both laugh. Then, holding hands, they leap together. Up they go. When they return to the base, she cooks a spectacular dinner for the crew, complete with fancy table settings and candles. (McCauley keeps their secret. He allowed her to bring ten pounds of personal stuff.) The experiment is judged a success. Moon colonization will be possible.
A decidedly sexist episode, but not unusually so for the time. And it's done with a lite tone. In a series that is usually serious and down to business, it's nice to see characters taking advantage of the unique possibilities for fun on the moon. Written by James Clavell, who also wrote the second episode, "Moon Landing."
Men Into Space: Burnout (1959)
A test flight hits trouble during reentry.
A new, more heat resistant reentry shield has been developed, allowing steeper and faster reentry. On the first manned test flight, the ship begins to vibrate severely as it reenters the atmosphere. One of the two-man crew wants to ride it out, his instruments all read normal. But the other crewman ejects their escape capsule. Back on the ground, he takes flack for acting hastily, loosing the ship and data. After some successful unmanned flights, a second manned mission is launched, with Col. McCauley replacing the man who pulled the lever. Again, there is severe vibration on reentry. Again all instruments read normal. McCauley comes very close to pulling the lever, but he holds off, and the vibration eventually stops. Back on the ground, McCauley heads off to tell the man he replaced that if it hadn't been for that first flight, he, too, would have ejected the capsule.
The only new effects for this episode are glowing leading edges on the ship as it begins reentry.
Men Into Space: Edge of Eternity (1959)
A ship looses oxygen. Time to draw straws.
After two weeks studying minerals on the moon, the three-man crew blast off for the space station in Earth orbit. On their way, they're hit by a small meteor and suddenly loose oxygen. They don helmets and stop the leak, then McCauley rigs a line from the oxygen fuel tank. But it's soon empty. A scientist on the station instructs them to turn their ship so the fuel tank faces the sun. This will heat and vaporize the remaining liquid oxygen, allowing them to pump it into the cabin. They make the maneuver, but calculations show that, counting the oxygen in the suit tanks, they've bought only enough time for one man to make it back alive. McCauley breaks a couple of pencils in half and they draw straws. The winner, at McCauley's insistence, puts on his helmet, and the losers set about writing their last letters home. But sitting behind his two doomed crew-mates, watching as they weaken by the minute, is two much for the young crewman. He removes his helmet. McCauley relents. All or nothing. They put on their helmets and hope for the best.
This is the first appearance of the space station we saw construction started on in episode three, and the second episode based on a ships loss of oxygen.
Men Into Space: Asteroid (1959)
Mission to a near-earth asteroid.
An asteroid has entered Earth orbit. McCauley and team launch to assess its suitability as a base. If it isn't suitable they will blow it up, as the orbit will eventually decay. The rock has no gravity but it's magnetic, allowing them to use their magnetic boots on the surface. They find it's not suitable as a base so they set charges. They are not aware that the scientist of the team is unconscious out their somewhere, and blind, having glimpsed the sun with his visor up. McCauley sets the timer for ten minutes (the silliest bit so far in this uncommonly realistic space series.) Then he winds up the guideline, fires up his jetpack and flies up to the ship. At the hatch, he's told the scientist has not returned (they'd assumed he was with McCauley.) Disobeying orders from Earth to leave at once, he heads back, hoping he can find the timer without the guideline, while the others search for the missing crewman.
Nifty effects in this episode are the ship, rockets blazing, cruising over the very craggy asteroid surface, and a few wire shots of jet powered astronauts leaping off the surface and flying like Superman.
Men Into Space: Moonquake (1959)
Thrilling moon adventure.
Col. McCauley heads a six-man lunar mission. As part of their study of the lunar crust a series of charges are placed and detonated. Moonquake! A fissure opens and an astronaut falls in. Other men are stranded by the fresh chasms. The ship topples over. Contact with Earth is lost. The best episode so far.
Effects highlights: On lunar surface miniatures fissures open, the ground moves, mountains wobble and the ship topples. McCauley leaps a wide chasm via wires and slow motion (He makes a test leap on solid ground first, in keeping with the shows emphasis on realism.) Astronauts stand on opposite outcroppings as an oxygen cylinder is tossed across a wider chasm to a stranded man. And later the ship's ladder is used to straddle the chasm as a makeshift bridge. Nice space shots of the descending moonship are used again.
Men Into Space: Lost Missile (1959)
A malfunction in space threatens lives.
A remote controlled atomic powered rocket is launched on a first test flight into space. It malfunctions and veers off course toward the moon, on a collision course with a moon base. Only half of the twenty men there can be evacuated in time. Col. McCauley and the scientist who designed the ship launch to rendezvous with the ship and attempt to disarm it's atomic engine. It's a two-man job, but the scientist is injured and McCauley must do it alone. It comes down to a guess. A wrong guess will set off an atomic explosion.
My least favorite episode so far (first five,) but it's still fun. Nice space effects again. This was the second time in the series so far that lives were threatened by a malfunctioning remote controlled rocket.
Working in space can be hazardous.
McCauley and crew blast off to assemble the first two sections of a space station, already in orbit a thousand miles up. They connect the sections, but an astronaut's suit sleeve is caught in the join, trapping him in space. A remote controlled rescue ship with special equipment is launched. It malfunctions and has to be blown up before it collides with the station and ship. With oxygen running low and nothing to loose, McCauley rigs a clamp for the caught sleeve, hoping this makeshift seal will hold when he cuts his crew-mate free.
I'd call this the best episode so far. Exciting and high production values for the time. Done for real: In a scene before launch showing a rehearsal for the assembly, two station sections and two astronauts are shown dangling from a large crane.
Men Into Space: Moon Landing (1959)
First men on the moon.
The first manned moon landing is a four man mission headed by Col. McCauley. They touch down and cut the engines. Moments later a landing leg sinks into the lunar soil and the ship begins to tip over. McCauley reignites the engines, sending them up again and saving the ship. On the second landing the ship remains stable. The crew exit the ship and descend a ladder to the surface. While checking out Mars through a telescope, a crewman collapses. He had been injured during the sudden relaunch and kept quiet about it because he didn't want to compromise the mission or miss out on exploring the moon. His condition is serious. A broken rib and punctured lung.
The Earth launch rocket and moonship are Chesley Bonestell designed miniatures. The moonship looks nothing like the Apollo LEM but it launches the same way, using its base section as a launch pad. The winged return vehicle blasts off on a slender booster rocket, minus the exterior tanks used for landing. The return trip is not shown.