Suspected radiation from nuclear waste containers provides (sic) a deep space probe from Earth's space research centre on the moon. It is a prologue to disaster and mankind's most fantastic adventure.
Preparations are well advanced for the most important space journey in the history of man: a probe into deep space to explore the rogue planet Meta which has broken away from a distant galaxy and is now closer to Earth's solar system. Already, identifiable signals have come from the planet, indicating a high form of life.
John Koenig (MARTIN LANDAU) is commander of the mission to be launched from Earth's Space Research Centre at Moonbase Alpha. He has just returned to the moon to oversee the momentous adventure, but the probe is already in jeopardy. Two of the deep space astronauts have been stricken with a mystery illness which has already claimed nine lives. All but the astronauts have been working at the Nuclear Disposal Area Two on the dark side of the moon to which nuclear waste from Earth has been consigned.
Dr. Helena Russell (BARBARA BAIN) is convinced that radiation has caused the terrible brain damage to the victims. But evidence discounts her theories. There is no trace of a leakage either from the deeply buried old containers at Disposal.Area One or at the new area. Koenig is sure Helena is misdiagnosing. So are others. And scientist, Professor Bergman (BARRY MORSE) confirms that there is no radiation. Koenig checks for himself. Everything is normal - except for intense heat in Koenig's inspection craft.
The two astronauts die. But of what? New facts emerge when their flight recorder tapes are examined and show that everything went black for two minutes while flying over the Disposal Areas, which leads to the discovery that the disused Disposal Area waste had been subject to a magnetic subsurface firestorm. It seems that the same thing may be happening to Disposal Area Two. It is the increased magnetic output that has caused the deaths, and there is immediate disaster when efforts are made to check on Area Two. A blinding nuclear explosion rocks the moon. Gravity control is affected. The moon - with Moonbase Alpha - is pulled out of orbit, moving inexorably away from Earth.
Koenig has to decide whether or not to abandon and makes his grim decision. Their only hope is to remain where they are. To abort would be certain suicide. By now, the moon is speeding even more rapidly away from Earth. And on Earth, the gravity disruption is causing devastation.
At Moonbase Alpha, the unmistakable sound of Meta signals comes in, now quite loud and clear.........
SCREENPLAY BY GEORGE BELLAK
DIRECTED BY LEE KATZIN
PRENTIS HANCOCK as PAUL MORROW
ZIENIA MERTON as SANDRA BENES
ANTON PHILLIPS as DR. MATHIAS
NICK TATE as ALAN CARTER
PHILIP MADOC as COMMANDER GORSKI
LON SATTON as OUMA
ERIC CARTE as COLLINS
Thanks to Allen Barnella