"It's dangerous. Lives have been lost, and honestly, probably more will be lost, but every one of us knew the risks before we joined. The toll it takes on us and the ones we love, we all signed up just the same. It's the price we pay to push forwards, to explore the universe, wander into the unknown, pushing ourselves to the limits of what's possible. Are there sacrifices that have to be made? Of course. Sacrifice is a part of any journey. It's like those caravans, the wagon trains that crossed our country a hundred years ago in search of a new home, or the ships that sailed across the Atlantic in search of a new world. Taking on these great challenges against great odds, that's what makes us human. Remember, we chose to go to the moon, not because it was easy, but because it was hard. So yes. Yes, I think it's worth it. Because no matter how hard it is now, when we look to the future, we see the things can, they can get better. I do believe that. " -Wilson, in response to a question during a press conference
Ellen Wilson née Waverly is a character on For All Mankind. She is one of the astronaut candidates for NASA who plans to send a woman on the moon. After Patty Doyle died during LM training, Deke Slayton was under pressure to scrap the program to focus on building a permanent lunar base. However, Deke decided to select Ellen and the remaining astronauts candidates and Ellen became one of the first four women to become NASA astronauts.
A closeted lesbian, she married Larry Wilson, a gay friend, to diffuse suspicion of their sexual orientations and maintain their employment at NASA. She previously had a relationship with Pam Horton, the bartender of the Outpost tavern.
Her first mission was Apollo 19.
On January 6, 1970, Ellen joined 19 other women to start her astronaut training. Deke walked in and introduced himself, telling them this would be a vigorous training, during which he expected a lot less than the 20 candidates to stay. He explained they would be graded as they went along, which included pilot performance, academics, character, and motivation. He would be posting results every so often; if their names were not on the list, they were cut from the program.
While Tracy walked, she found Ellen who had fallen and hurt her foot, however, she mentioned she could not use the walkie-talkie. Tracy helped her and told her it was probably a bad sprain. In order to help with the sun, Tracy covered up with Ellen and got to know her a little better in the process, finding out Ellen's family owned Cavalier Airlines.
After a while, Deke called out through his walkie-talkie, and told all remaining candidates to radio their approximate location. Since he got no response, he radioed again, but was responded by Tracy, who told him he did not need to shout. Paramedics received Ellen, and Tracy was given water while Deke reminded her it was not a team exercise: Ellen should have radioed and Tracy should not have stopped to help her, but Tracy told him that she was not going to leave her behind, and he would not have done it either.
On day 200 of the program, Ed introduced the five remaining candidates to the LEM simulator, which would emulate the flight dynamics of the lunar module spacecraft. He told them it was sort of like a helicopter, with a few distinctions. He told them that the activity for that day would be to perform basic takeoff and landing maneuvers with each of them flying an altitude of 300 feet, hover 30 seconds, execute a 360 clockwise spin, hover for another 30 seconds, and land on a target. However, Patty Doyle lost control of the simulator and crashed.
Selected as an astronaut
After the death of Patty Doyle, Molly Cobb sits at the bar in Outpost Tavern, where she is joined by Ellen, Tracy Stevens, and Danielle Poole, who tell her she missed the service. They try comforting her, as Pam serves drinks for the women, but Molly does not say a word until she mentions that Patty should have ejected, and that the program would probably be canceled.
On October 27, 1970, Thomas is confused as to who called a press conference. At the conference, Deke announces that Danielle, Ellen, Molly, and Tracy were the first women to complete all of NASA's required astronaut training. He introduces each of them, and shakes their hand, while the press claps in celebration. Deke goes to Thomas, who tells him he had not authorized what he had done. Deke was aware of this, and reminded him that he was the one who decided who goes up, and when. Thomas congratulated him on making Nixon's shitlist.
At Outpost, Ellen talked Lar who told her that she would be Molly's backup. Ellen told him that Molly was the best pilot in their class, thriving under pressure. However, the man told her that Ed is a no-nonsense man, and Molly "loves a shitstorm," which meant that Ellen could likely get bumped up. She ended up going home with Pam Horton.
Larry Wilson was called early in the morning, and was told by Coop that they needed Ellen at 6A.M since the training schedule for the prime crew had just shifted. However, Ellen was not with him, but with Pam Horton, who picked up the phone and later told Ellen to get ready.
During the ride Larry gave Ellen, Ellen tried explaining that she had drank to much, and both Pam and she had decided that it was better if she did not drive. Lar, however, told Ellen that both of them were getting sloppy, and she could not afford to lie to officials or she could have her career terminated. He asked her to act the way everybody was expecting them to act, and everything would be fine. When they walked into NASA, they both held hands.
At Outpost, women were gathered, not so much to see Apollo 23, but to see the Equal Rights Amendment in the Illinois State Senate, which was a top priority by Ted Kennedy. When the final vote was cast in favor, Pam Horton and Ellen Wilson hugged, and Larry Wilson hugged Ellen as well.
At Outpost, Pam, Ellen and Larry talked about the Equal Rights Amendment, but Larry mentioned there was no way Americans would watch their daughters go to war, but Pam mentioned that they used to say the same thing about women and looked at Ellen. Larry told him equal rights does not mean the same as gay rights.
At Outpost, Larry told Pam and Ellen that he was interrogated, mentioning that usually the FBI gets these secrets out because the Russians can use these secrets to blackmail you. Larry told Ellen to be ready since what she was committing was a felony, but they needed it to keep working at NASA.
Pam and Ellen were hugging in bed, but Ellen tells Pam maybe they should take a break since the FBI investigation has her wound up and she also does not know where her relationship with Pam is going, since she was not sure it could go anywhere or if being a lesbian was a phase for her.
Investigated by the FBI
Ellen is interviewed by the FBI officer, and mentioned that her claustrophobia was a childhood fear, which she got over. She said that she had been told that her medical information was confidential and it annoyed her that he was flipping through it. He mentioned that he did not want to annoy her and reminded her that he could kick her out of the program. However, she told him that she knew she was only there because he believed her boyfriend was gay, but he told her that they were not there to talk about her boyfriend since he could not figure her out since her profile made her much better than Larry Wilson since he was a homosexual. He pressured her into telling her Larry's truth, but was not able to.
Ellen talked to Larry and Pam about this, and Larry mentioned that their phones were probably bugged. They watched the news at Outpost and kept drinking.
Weisner tells Ellen that Agent Donahue believed that Larry was a homosexual, which could pose a security threat to the program; however, there was a new belief that Ellen was also a homosexual, which she qualified as absurd. Weisner told her that they do not believe that it is time for a sex scandal. She tells him that she could not control Donahue or the justice department and Weisner told her that both her and Larry could take an extra step in their relationship.
At Outpost, Ellen tells Larry that they cannot allow their secret to get out. Larry tells her that moving forward would put them at a safer zone, but Pam tells Ellen that if she proceeds, things would be definitely over between both of them.
Ellen gets home and opens her windown, but sees a car outside, which leaves as soon as she sets her eye on it.
Later, Ellen and Larry got married.
At NASA, astronauts including Danielle are watching Gordo being celebrated for having landed them back on Earth, as well as congratulating Ellen, who was now married to Larry on becoming the new commander for Apollo 24. Deke mentions that he was, in fact, part of Mercury and mentioned that he was able to fly, but assigned Ellen as leader because he knew she was very capable. The interviewer, however, mentions that Danielle's accident at Jamestown had raised the question of having women living on the moon, but Ellen defended her fellow woman. Harry defends the interviewer's obvious attacking of Ellen, saying he was not worried about serving under her.
Ellen, Harry, and Deke are later told at NASA that when they docked with the LSAM, they would need to perform a system test. Ellen asks what their cargo would be, but the woman told them that they still did not know. Deke asked what the mystery was all about, since it would probably just be 20,000 pounds of food and gas.
Apollo 24 launched in order to bring back Ed, who had been stranded on the moon for 159 days. Deke called Houston, telling them they were ready for trans-lunar injection. Gordo confirmed they had received the message and asked Deke if he liked the view. And so Deke, Ellen and Harry moved forward. However, when they tried to ignite, it failed.
Apollo 24 and 25 started working together to fix 24. They installed the FCC they needed and then started a test, which Margo directed. Ellen mentions that the tank pressure had gone up. Margo realized what was happening and told them to get the remaining astronauts to get away from the booster since it was still armed. It was too late the booster ignited, making Deke slam into a steering nozzle, and Harry slid down the booster into the exhaust plume of the engine dissolving in the heat of the exhaust. Molly disconnected the tether holding 25 to 24 and then lost her grip and let go. Molly mentioned that she had almost no oxygen left and they tried to find her since they could not see her. Tracy managed to see her, but Apollo 24 was still uncommunicative.
Mission control got the trajectory on 24, but did not know if they were dead or alive. Apollo 24 was not heading for the moon at all and could not communicate.
Ellen comes to after Deke calls her. He tells her that she needs to abort the burn and also tells her he does not have much left in his OPS and he has a puncture in his suit. However, her abort handle is non-responsive, and Houston can not be reached. She pulls on a chord only to find out Harry had been lost in space. She pulls on Deke's chord and is able to bring him into the ship. They close the hatch and are able to remove their helmets, but Deke had been stabbed by the smashed steering thruster, so Ellen tells him to apply pressure on the wound. She tries reaching Houston once again, but they remain uncommunicative.
Ellen put stitches on Deke's wound, who complained that their communication problems were most likely due to their comm systems having been updated. Ellen told him to calm down and also reminded him that they were risking losing lunar orbit, also asking if he was up for another burn, which he nodded to. Deke told her that Harry had been dragged into the plume, which swallowed him whole. The CSM separated and they kept moving.
It seemed Ellen and Deke were now heading towards the moon and were moving very fast. Ellen switched to manual, but depleted the SPS and they did not make it by thirty feet. However, in mission control Margo stumbled upon everybody celebrating since they now knew they were alive. Aleida went to NASA and saw Margo, who was still working.
Deke tells Ellen that their death would not be the worst way to go. He also tells her that he kind of wants to see how far they get, but lets out a cry of pain. Ellen looks at his wound and notices internal bleeding; Deke tells her that he had always thought he had seen a bit of John Glenn in her since whenever she wanted to walk into a room, people saw her and listened to her. He tells her that his "in case of death letter" was bad since he was distracted and only had two minutes to write it. He tells Ellen that Marge deserved better and still could not believe Marge had said yes to him. He asks Ellen for her story ad she tells him that it was nice how Larry had proposed. He tells him that Larry had taken her to Memorial Park, but did not finish the story and said that she did not know what she was doing since she was heading towards nowhere and tells Deke that she had to hide parts of who she was and told him that she did not love Larry, but Pam. Deke realized Pam was the bartender and laughed until he realized she was serious and was disgusted.
Karen went to Outpost, where Pam was told that Ellen was alive by Larry. He did not tell her anything else. Karen asked her if she was Pam and told her that Ed went there a lot. She asked Pam to surprise her and she told her that Ed always spoke highly of the place, but it was a shithole. Karen told her that it was understood that wives do not go to Outpost, and Pam complained that men had a lot of rules, which Karen called bullshit. Pam told her that the country looked up to them and told her that she would not feel sorry for her, but apologized, saying that the last few days had been rough since she knew some all of astronauts. She told Karen that she had become "good friends" with Ellen, but was not being told anything by anyone. Karen told Pam that Ed was her husband, and told Pam that it was okay, also telling her that she should go to JSC with her.
Deke asked Ellen if she was aware of the security risks, since she was opening herself up to blackmail, manipulation. Ellen told him that that was not fair, but Deke told her that she was putting everybody at risk. Ellen said she believed that he would understand because he had pushed for the women when nobody else had, but Deke told her that that was because they were good pilots and being women was beside the point. Ellen told Deke that the world was changing and that he helped do it. Deke started letting out a cry of pain, and Ellen told him to breathe.
Ellen fed Deke, who was now laying down. They suddenly heard Ed radio to them and Ellen responded, saying they were there to rescue him. He greeted Ellen and asked how Deke was doing, but Ellen told him that space had made Deke more soft and cuddly than usual. Ed said he was sorry to hear that and told them how the plan would go.
Deke regains his ability to talk and weakly told Ellen that she has great things ahead and that if they made it through, to not tell anybody else. He tells her to keep it to herself since there were too many people like him and it was all they would see.
Ed radios 24 and tells them that Houston was working on a fix, but Deke says that there would be no time for him to dock. Ellen suggests Ed throwing a tank. Weisner argues against it, but Margo tells him to shut up or fuck off. Ed removes the tank while Ellen exits 24; he throws the tank, but it went a little too high. Ellen removed her chord and jumped, successfully attaching it to the tank and barely able to hold on to it. Everybody at Houston celebrates, completely impressed by the stunt.
Ellen goes back to 24, asking Deke if he had seen her, but sees he is slumped and not moving. At Houston, everybody finds out Deke has passed and look at Marge. Weisner personally walks up to her and takes his glasses off, breaking the news to her. Karen hugs Marge, who starts crying.
When Ellen makes it to the moon, they stand in front of Shane's grave and drop Deke's pin on the ground, also burying him next to Shane's grave.
Ed tells Ellen that she should probably rest since during the next few days, they would start digging, but Ellen tells him that he would be returning on Osprey. Ed tells her that they can not expect to hold the mission then, since she would be alone and could not leave the base after everything that had happened. He mentioned another relief mission that would be there in a few days, but Ellen tells him that she would send him back home. Ellen tells him that she relieves him as commander of Jamestown and Ed nods.
Ellen is interviewed over what had happened with Deke. Ellen tells them that Deke had been a pioneer and a stubborn man, having helped everybody get to space. A reporter tells her that travelling to space now seemed like a dangerous endeavor, but Ellen says that everybody knows the risk and it was worth it because things could get better. In order to say goodbye, she said she loved Larry. After she hung up, she found an ant running on the floor of Jamestown.
On May 21, 1983, at what is now known as Jamestown Colony, Ellen asks Larry for no more parties, but he tells her it was not his idea. She accepts and tells him that she does not want a birthday party, but would be fine with a welcome home party since she did not want to be reminded she was 40 now. She told him that she was handing the base off to the new commander, who was outside with the rest of the crew, so she had the base to herself for probably the last time, which she wanted to enjoy. After they said goodbye, Ellen moved through the base and looked around.
Meanwhile, astronauts walked outside with flashlights. Wubbo tells Molly his team that he was positioning the rover so that they could see the sunrise. They all turned off their flashlights and were soon iluminated by the sun. Molly told Wubbo to stop staring at his screen and look at the sun, which he did. The astronauts started singing, joined by Ellen at the base.
When a serious solar flare was headed their way, Ellen told all the astronauts to head back to the base, so they headed to the rover. However, Molly Wubbo were too far out to make it back to the base, so Molly told Ellen that they would find shelter in place. Molly told Wubbo that there was a lava tube next to base camp where they would meet inside. Wubbo agreed and they started moving.
Ellen instructed everybody to lock everything down and headed to an underground bunker, where they would stay for at least three hours. Meanwhile, Molly reached the lava tube, but did not hear back from Wubbo when she talked to him. She looked through a powerful camera lens and found that Wubbo's rover had flipped and the astronaut was not moving.
As the storm reached the moon, Molly went inside the lava tube and was told by Ellen to stay inside at all times. She looked out as the sand on the moon's surface started moving and took off her dosimeter watch. After that, she headed outside in order to reach Wubbo and ran across the storm. When she reached Wubbo, she found he was injured and unconscious, and carried him back to the lava tube, which was not an task for her. She looked at Wubbo's dosimeter and found it was red; when she held hers, she was still green.
Molly tells Ellen that she took shelter in the lava tube, trying to reach Wubbo, but when the two finally reached Jamestown, she was not feeling very well herself. Ellen tells her that she made the right call and a doctor says that it is uncertain how bad Wubbo would be, but would likely develop cancer in the next few years. Ellen tells Molly that she would be returning to Houston with her, but Molly complains since her dosimeter was green. Ellen tells her that her decision was final.
Margo talks to Ellen through a video communicating device and asks her how the power situation was holding up. Ellen says that they were recuperating and told Ed that life support systems should be doing fine, but the Mars program would have to be put on hold, also mentioning that the fuel rods were damaged. Margo takes note that they would need to send more plutonium and says that she would alert Guam to implement nuclear transportation guidelines, only to be told by Bradford that they would need to ask the Pentagon first. Thomas walks in with news that the president wanted to ease tensions with the Soviets, mentioning that putting missles on Pathfinder was on hold for now and that they needed an American astronaut and a Soviet cosmonaut to come together for a handshake in space. Margo laughed, but Thomas told Ed to prep the crew. Margo said that it would never be done, but Thomas told her to relax and to figure something out.
Ellen looks around Jamestown and remembers how long she had been up there in total, preparing to leave and assigned Al as commander of Jamestown. She got into the LSAM with Molly and more people who were ready to go back to Earth.
Molly and Ellen make it to Earth, where the former is not feeling so good. They are received by many people, and Ellen thanks the crew. Wayne greets Molly and hugs her; he gets her out of there and tells her nobody would notice.
At Ellen and Larry's house, they both watched the news, joined by another man, who told Larry he needed to go, and kissed him. Ellen tells Larry that he had "trained" the man well. She asks him if it is a serious relationship, but he says he does not know. Ellen says that she is not ready for any romance at the moment since she was busy, and asks Larry if he had been promoted, but he says he had not since Boeing only gave people promotions in December. They say goodbye to one another and leave.
Ellen makes it to NASA, where she greets Margo, Thomas, and Bradford. Margo tells her their first meeting would be concerning budgets and they begin talking. Margo says they need more money for Jamestown and they would need to get it from the Mars program. Ellen says that the Mars program was very delayed and said that there had to be another way, but Thomas says that they need to pick their battles. Margo looks through index cards and finds Aleida Rosales listed, and asks for a minute.
Ellen visits Thomas and tells him that the moon had sucked up a lot of funding, but Mars could give them an upper hand. He tells her that she has a problem - she did not fool anyone and he told her that she needed to be a better poker player, revealing that he had written a speech in which a senator attacked their lunar costs. She asked why, and he said that the senator needed to demonstrate independence, which had in turn granted NASA the ability to self-fund and would give them enough money to explore Mars as long as the democrats did not win. She tells him that it must have been difficult for him to have lost his job once Kennedy had gotten elected. He says it was part of the job, which he had lobbied his way into during the war after being impressed by the stars. Ellen mentions she was surprised that he actually loved space and was not just some politician, but he says that it was fine if people saw him that way since they were the ones who made everything happen. He tells her that she would help him greatly since she was very genuine, but tells her not to lose track of who she really was.
Larry is having dinner with another man when Ellen gets home. Larry asks her how her day was, but they told her they would head out. Larry asks her to join them, but she declines. He hands her her mail and leaves. As Ellen opens it up, she stumbles upon a package sent by Pam, which was her book. On the front page Pam asks if Ellen knew which poem was about her, and Ellen starts reading the book.
Ellen, Bradford, Margo, and Thomas congratulated him on his nine years of service as head of the astronaut office. When Ed asked if he had to make a wish, Margo told him that it had already been granted since he would be commanding Pathfinder. Ed blows out the candle and the meeting begins. Thomas tells them that the Soviets had agreed to mount a mission with them on the moon, which nobody likes. Bradford says that the only reason they accepted was so that they could get a closer look on American technology, but Ellen says that they have old technology which they could use. Everybody likes the idea of that, and Thomas asks Ed to choose a crew. He says the commander would be Danielle, but Thomas says that they might want to consider different possibilities since they only wanted the best. Ed asks what that was supposed to mean, since what had happened to Danielle's arm was not her fault; Ellen agrees with Ed and Margo does as well. Everybody likes the idea and Bradford mentions that this would be a powerful message, and after Thomas says that he would let everybody know, he asks him to tell him if anybody gave him any trouble so he could call the Secretary of Defense so he would support it.
A ceremony is held, and Soviet cosmonauts are received by NASA. Margo tells Thomas that she believes if she can pretend to be happy, the Russians could pretend as well. They greet the cosmonauts, and Ellen greets one in Russian, but tells him she is not fluent, which makes Molly laugh. Danielle greets the cosmonauts happily, and they move forward.
Later, Ellen asked how they were supposed to get anywhere if nobody wanted to share information, and Bradford simply responded that they would not get anywhere. Margo complained, and Bradford told her that he was confident that she would make things not move forward.
Ellen walks with Pam, who tells her that she does not know what will happen between them, and she could not toss her life aside for her again. Ellen told her that she was not asking her to, but wanted both of them to figure out what their relationship meant. Pam told her that it was an affair, but Ellen told her that it did not have to be just that, but Pam tells her that it was hard to trust her, and Ellen suggests that she did not have to be at NASA since she wanted her, saying that she was willing to do anything in order to keep her, but Pam tells her that since she was a public figure she did not want Elise to find out because somebody saw them holding hands in the park.
The next day, Margo, and Aleida presented the docking system to Thomas, Ellen, Bradford and the Apollo-Soyuz team. Sergei talked to the Soviets and they agreed that it would work for them. Margo told Sergei that they would need to coordinate their approach while in space, and Sergei gave her the frequencies, with Margo returning the favor. Thomas told Ellen that the cat was out of the bag now, and Ellen agreed.
Ellen sat with Larry and he mentions that he knew she was with someone because she was glowing. Ellen tells him that she had found Pam again through her book, which surprised him. He told her that he was happy for her, but realized that she would be coming out. Larry was surprised, saying that he did not know that they had a specific time planned for coming out. Ellen mentions that they should start living their lives and getting a divorce, which freaks him out, since he believed they were sharing a life together, and he loved her. She told him that she felt alone since she had lost Pam the first time. Larry understood, and mentioned that he would do anything for Ellen. She leaves and tells him they would talk when she returned.
In New York Ellen and Thomas have a drink before negotiating a space alliance with Korea. He told her that the Koreans were party animals, which she says exhausts her, but he tells her she will do great. She tells him that she had been meaning to tell him, but is interrupted by a phone call. When she takes the call, she thanks the caller and tells Thomas that her father had a heart attack. Thomas remembered he was in Connecticut, so he told her to use the limo and he would take a taxi to the airport.
Ellen's father tells her he is sorry she missed her flight for nothing, but she tells him that he had a heart attack and needs to take care of himself. He reminds her that he is running a half-a-billion-dollar company, which she understood. He tells her that if she wanted him to slow down then she would need to help him, which would not happen soon, but she tells him that she is thinking of leaving NASA since she wanted to get to Mars and believed that private spaceflight would be the only way to do it. He wonders what Larry has to say, and she tells him that he only wants her to be happy, which gladdened him, since she would always have a solid man by her side, but he would like grandkids.
Ellen is interrupted and told that the White House wanted to speak to her. She went to the phone and received news that the flight Thomas was on had been shot by the Soviets, leaving no survivors. However, the Soviets had not confirmed this nor apologized.
At a meeting, Margo asks what the airliner was doing flying over Sakhalin and Molly says it could have been a navigational error, but Margo thought 400 miles was too much and wondered why a commercial airliner would be shot down. Bradford mentioned they had spy planes flying over Sakhalin all the time, so the Soviets were paranoid. However, he mentioned that it was more likely that they suspected that the plane was being used to spy, but said that it would be ridiculous. Molly was annoyed that she had not been able to reach Poole or Morrison, but Bradford told her that the FBI had shut down access to all Soviet officials in the US including the Apollo-Soyuz engineers. Ellen agreed and told everybody that she had spoken to the White House and until they found a replacement, she would be acting administrator. She mentions that their priority was contacting the astronauts, maybe contacting Sergei first.
Bradford asks if they will really ask for help after being attacked by the Soviets, and Margo tells him that Sergei will listen to reason. Ellen tells Bradford that they should consider all their available options before making the whole situation worse. Ellen tells Margo that she would contact him. When Margo leaves, she whispers something in Ellen's ear and leaves.
Margo tells a Senator over the phone that she was doing everything she could to contact the astronauts while Larry helps her with coffee. Pam walks in and asks if it was a bad time, but Ellen walks up and kisses her. Larry greets Pam as well and tells her that the phone had not stopped ringing all day. Ellen asks for money for NASA's security and is told that she would get it.
After a while, Ellen was still on the phone while Pam got bored. Ellen hangs up the phone and apologizes, but Pam tells her it was fine and mentions she was good at her job. Pam gives Ellen a massage and they kiss; Ellen tells Pam she is fine, but was exhausted and overwhelmed since she would have been on that plane if her father had not had a heart attack. Pam tells her not to think about it, but Ellen did not like hearing that Thomas was meant to die and says that he was a good man, but mostly misunderstood. Pam tells Ellen that she is alive and with her, which she was grateful for and the two hug. The phone rings once again and Ellen is told that the president would be speaking to her.
Larry helps Ellen with her coffee and they both mention they could not sleep. He asks her how she is doing, and she mentions she does not know since she was overwhelmed. He tells her that she would have to say goodbye to Mars for at least a decade since the military was taking control, but she did not like that, though she does not know what to do about it. He tells her that she is the acting administrator of NASA and needed to prove she had things under control so she could have everybody's trust.
Margo, Molly and Bradford are called to a meeting along with other people who did not know what the meeting was about. Ellen walks in and greets everybody, telling them that the president had decided to arm Pathfinder. Bradford agrees with it since they were being left with no choice, but Margo mentions it is a defensive measure until it suddenly is not. Ellen ignores her and proceeds to say that they were moving up the retaking of lunar claim site 357 Bravo, which would happen within 48 hours. Molly says that the plan was to use lunar night in order to maintain the element of surprise and reminds Ellen that the astronauts had not finished training, but Ellen tells them that the president was comfortable with moving forward after her recommendations. Margo and Molly were left in shock.
The claim has been taken back by American astronauts and Ellen, Margo and Bradford inform the president about their success. Margo asks about Apollo-Soyuz and Ellen says that since they have the moral high ground, they should keep it and the president agrees, also noting her great work, nominating her to the Senate and naming her permanent NASA administrator and asks her to think about it. Bradford and Margo congratulate her and think it is ridiculous that she was thinking it over, adding that they could go to Mars now. Bradford tells Margo that the Soviets had delayed the Buran shuttle probably due to repairs and tells Margo that they had probably figured it out by themselves.
Pam asks Ellen if she is okay, so Ellen tells her about being offered to be NASA's administrator. Pam congratulates her, but she says she would not take it and was waiting for the right time to tell her. However, Pam tells her that she could be part of Raegan's cabinet and asks her if that was not everything she ever wanted since she could go to Mars. However, Ellen tells her that she is what she wants and they kiss.
Paramedics try helping the injured cosmonauts while Rossi, the commander, spoke to Houston on the line. The astronauts tell the commander that they had perceived a hostile intent, but the cosmonauts had only been reaching for their translation cards. Ellen asks them if they were sure that there were no weapons on sight before she took the incident to the president.
Ellen tells Bradford and Margo that the situation was not good, and Margo points out that wars have started over a lot less.
Ellen, Margo, and Bradford watch the news, where the Soviet Union mentions they would not be intimidated and knew that the United States had plans to bring nuclear weapons to the moon and said that they would get in the way and destroy them before they got there. Bradford tells them that there had just been a launch from Sakhalin island - the Buran shuttle, which the CIA says was armed. Ellen mentions that was a problem since it could orbit space, shoot them down and they would never even see it coming. Margo takes her glasses off angrily once everyone leaves.
They track the shuttle at DODCOM, but after three hours, they find that they had done was dock it with their space station, which made Margo think that they were overreacting. Bradford would like to believe that, but mentions that they had been stockpiling fuel on that station. Suddenly, Buran launched and Bradford mentioned it could shoot Sea Dragon down before it entered lunar orbit, which worries Ellen since the moon was being blockaded.
Ellen tells Margo and Bradford that since the cosmonaut had requested asylum, they would grant it, which is what the president had said. Ellen tells them that the plan was to get him to the United States on the next shuttle the next month. Margo stops Ellen and asks her if she had asked the president about Apollo-Soyuz. Ellen says that they had not, but would recommend that they cancel it if she was asked her opinion. Margo asks if they could wait to see if the Russians launched Soyuz and Ellen agrees to see how things played out.
Pam leaves Ellen a letter in which she tells her that she still loves Elise, hoping she understood and leaves. Larry walks up to Ellen and she tells him about the letter. Larry comforts Ellen, who does not understand and cries.
Ellen makes it to mission control, where she is told by Margo that the Soviets were asking for more time before docking with no reason given. Margo is optimistic, but Molly tells them it has to do with the lunar blockade. Margo asks about Buran, but Ellen tells her is classified which Margo finds ridiculous since they would not be able to make informed decisions.
Ellen tells Margo and Molly that they could not keep this up, but Margo does not want to give up since they were on the brink of war. She asks Ellen for one more orbit, and she gives Margo 90 minutes. Molly tells Bill that they had one more orbit before they called it quits, which Aleida protests since people had worked very hard. Molly asks Bill who Aleida is and mentions she likes her when she sees her attitude.
Margo finds Ellen and Bradford and tells them that Jamestown was not responding. Margo says that there was a backup, but Bradford tells her that it might not be that simple and reveals that there was a second reactor in order to make weapons on the moon which meant there was no failsafe. She tells them to forget that it was nonsensical to have nuclear weapons on the moon, but to keep it from the people in charge was wrong. She storms out of the room after that.
Ellen tells Ed about Jamestown and he remembers he put everybody on that base. Sally asks why they would attack Jamestown, but they do not know. Ed tells them that they saw a weakness in them and Bradford tells them that they were their last hope. They start losing signal as they reach the far side of the moon.
In NASA's mission control, the siren starts sounding, so Ellen tells them they're in DEFCON 2 since the Soviet fleet off the coast of Panama is threatening the southern United States with ten nuclear bombs threatening Houston alone. Margo tells everyone where the bomb shelters are at, telling them that whoever wanted to go should go, but only one person leaves. Margo tells Bill that they would need to bring Apollo home.
Bill and Aleida tell Apollo how to get back down, but Danielle refuses and tells him they would proceed with the docking maneuver. Danielle tells him that she would not be going back down. When Margo tells her what her orders were, Danielle told her she was choosing to ignore her orders and told them to begin docking procedures lest they crash. Molly says that she does not care what Danielle had said since she had been given an order, which Makes Margo comment that maybe it was due to it being okay that she had not followed orders many times before. Before Molly could react, Ellen tells them that it was okay for them to proceed since at least one good thing should happen on that shitty day. Aleida does not believe it, but Bill lets her talk to the astronauts, which Margo encourages. Apollo begins approaching Soyuz and they ultimately dock.
Ellen is called by the president, who told her Apollo-Soyuz was beautiful and inspirational, which Ellen felt they needed. Raegan asks for the status of Pathfinder and Buran, who were still out of communication range.
Buran had missile lock on Sea dragon 17, so Ed sits down again, telling her he would do what he had to and shoots Sea Dragon down. They look at the cosmonauts and turn back from the moon. Houston contacts them and Ellen asks if they had engaged with Buran, but Ed says they had not, which Ellen is relieved to hear.
Later, at Tracy and Gordo's graves, Ed cries and leaves a deck of cards on top of Gordo's. Molly, Ellen, Danielle, Jimmy, Danny, Karen and Kelly cry as well. Karen leaves Tracy flowers.
Ellen Waverly is a quiet, determined, ambitious, labyrinthine woman leaning-in to an enormous challenge.