"This is my call, I'm in command here. So you can either stay out of my way, or you can fuck right off. Those are your options." -Madison in A City Upon A Hill
She was mentored by Wernher von Braun, who was later discovered to work for the Nazis during the second world war while aware of the poor treatment of the slaves who built the V-2. This let her estranged with von Braun and later had the difficult task of visiting him to understand what went wrong with the Saturn V.
History[edit | edit source]
Margo celebrated the moon landing with her mentor, Wernher von Braun.
Later, when von Braun considers retiring, Margo does not agree. Von Braun tells her to maybe consider dating someone, but Margo reminds him she does not have time. Changing the subject, von Braun mentions an interview with Gene, and Margo mentions she had not told him because it was something she wanted to do herself.
At her interview with Gene, Margo is asked how she can be sure she will not wilt at the first sign of pressure. She mentions she is different, and when asked how she knew von Braun, she tells Gene that her father used to teach at the University of Huntsville, and von Braun would come over for dinner and while she had never left Huntsville, he helped her believe that anything was possible and was the reason she became an engineer. Afterwards, Gene asked if she would like to have a family, which Margo denied for the time being. Gene replied by saying that not every woman was cut out to be a mother.
At her office, Margo is joined by von Braun who says he is disappointed in him because she made him look bad. All this because he was the second to the moon, but she was the first woman in mission control. In a state of utter shock she hugs him, and von Braun congratulates her, giving her his ruler. With these news, Margo moves her things to mission control at her new station. When she arrives she is greeted with a hit dog, and all the men make fun of her, calling her Eva von Braun. When she sits down, a coworker tells her to not take it personal, as it was done with every new person.
Back at Nasa, von Braun told Margo that apparently the Soviets had launched another N-1 right ahead of Apollo 12. She ignored him and simply asked if he had known the workers at his factory were slaves from Nazi concentration camps. Von Braun was surprised by the question, and stated he needed to move his work forward, and mentioned if he had done something, he could have been killed and everything he had done would be ruined. However, Margo told him he can not state what "could have been." Wernher stated that after the war, he chose the USA to give his life's work, but now he was an old man and could be replaced. Margo once again asked him if he knew, and he simply stated that progress was never free, always having a cost. Margo left in silence.
Training female astronauts[edit | edit source]
On day 55 of the course, 15 candidates were left, and Margo was giving a class in which she explained how to safely return the crew. Since Molly was not paying attention, Margo helped her with her crossword puzzle in order to get her attention back. Molly defended herself by saying she understood the reentry equations, prompting Margo to give them a pop quiz. During the quiz, Molly got up and turned hers in, which Margo checked and found Cobb had gotten full marks on.
During a simulator, Tracy was assigned with Danielle and Molly. There, Tracy yawned while Danielle responded to a question. Molly snapped her fingers at Tracy, and told her to be ready; when it was Tracy's turn, she was told to open all four helium iso valves, which she could not find until told by Molly.
As another exercise, Margo told the engineers to fail the guidance computer and have them come in manually, which the lead engineer mentioned they were too unexperienced to do. Margo, however, countered by saying they could not wait for them to be ready. While the engineer was doing that, he made a voice, which incited a discussion about a movie with a candidate, but Margo told them to flirt later.
Gene Kranz gives a conference to Ed, Gordo, Margo, Thomas, Deke, and others, saying that a man had been buried on the moon, which the Russians were keeping quiet. It seems they were trying to land near water. Looking at some cylinders, Gene says they might be pressurized modules, which makes Ed realize the Russians were ahead of them once again. However, Deke mentions they do not even have a site, which angers Thomas, telling him to "just pick one." Margo tells him that the base have been predicated on proximity to water ice, and they had yet to identify where they could find water ice. She was interrupted by Thomas, who did not know who she was, soon realizing she was "Wernher's girl." Gene corrected him, telling Thomas Margo was a flight dynamics officer and was making a good point. Thomas was angered by how they were always losing to the Russians, and reminded them the election was coming up, which would probably be against Ted Kennedy.
Margo was doing some math, but felt frustrated, and calmed herself down in order to continue. At night, she played the piano with a band at a bar. Molly watched her play, and Margo caught her eye. After her performance, Molly went up to her, and told her she finally saw a side of her that she liked. Wayne told her she did a good job, and Molly introduced him as her husband, which she scoffed at. Molly told Margo that she had to invite the other girls to the bar, but Margo asked her not to since it was her alone time, telling the astronaut not to mess with her.
At another training routine, 18 days before the launch, Margo tells Molly that she went into the final trim 30 seconds late. She tells the other engineers that Molly still does not know the standard procedures. They asked both Ed and Molly to repeat, and Molly complained that Margo was a "pain in [her] ass." Molly told Ed that all she was doing was adjusting the locking harness out of the way, but she was ready. Molly started humming, and Margo asked her to focus; Cobb started entering numbers, but got a mistake, which Ed dryly confirmed was wrong. After that, Ed asked to have more under his control, which an engineer said was too late to be doing. Molly told him she had it under control, but he was firm. Margo asked Ed if he remembered why they had laid it out that way to start with, but Ed reminded her he was the commander of the mission.
After training, Margo asked Cobb what was going on. Molly told her to fuck off, since she was just messing with her. However, Margo told her that she was too busy joking to see that Ed does not trust her. Molly was confused, but Margo told her she was not good enough and she had to be in order to be the first American woman in space. Molly told her that she was who she was, and if people did not like it, then screw them, but Margo reminded her it was not about her, and that she was not just a pilot, but an astronaut.
Apollo 15 reaches the moon after 4 days, 3 hours, and 46 minutes, while Deke Slayton and Margo Madison work at mission control. Molly Cobb is told she is live on all networks. Shane asks Karen why everything is about her, and Karen tells him that she is the first woman astronaut, but Shane reminds him that Ed is her boss.
Margo measured their flight dynamics, during which everything seemed to be running smoothly.
On the LEM, Ed felt relieved to be able to breathe, and Molly told mission control that they did not know how lucky they were. Mission control told them that they did, since even Margo was smiling, which Cobb asked someone to take a picture of. They were instructed to rehydrate and breathe for fifteen minutes. During this time, Ed took pictures of Molly with the ice, which she mentioned was melting. They lifted off, and left.
At mission control, Irene asks FIDO if they have updates on launch winds yet, which Margo confirms, telling her that they were within launch parameters. Irene asks her to keep an eye on the data, but they soon saw on their screen the abrupt explosion of the Apollo 23. All of mission control froze at the sight of the explosion, and Irene told someone to lock the doors.
Margo was at her desk, and was told the Weisner was looking for her. Her colleague pointed out that they now had to look at a picture of Gene everyday, which Margo mentioned helped keep his memory alive, but the man said that it only showed how insignificant everybody in that room was, since if there had been an astronaut’s death, there would be a lot more than just a picture, so when they died, nobody would remember them.
Margo saw Aleida seated behind mission control, and asked her how she had gotten in there. Aleida explained that her father, Octavio had let her in after talking to a security guard. Margo put on her glasses and looked at the math Aleida was doing.
After that, she walked into Weisner’s office and was told that the board of inquiry wanted her to collect an outside report that was prepared on the Saturn explosion. She laughed, and wondered why she was being demoted to the mail room. Weisner reminded her that Irene had been the most qualified to be flight director, but Margo argued that she had been in NASA only five years, while she had started in 1966. Weisner apologized, but Margo told him that she was not a messenger. Weisner, however, wanted to restart the Saturn project and all they needed was the systems analysis report, which would only be given to her. Margo mentioned she did not want to see von Braun, but Weisner told her it was not personal and to go get it.
Margo visits von Braun, who asks her to come in to his house. She told him that she did not know why he wanted to see her. He changed the subject, telling her that she had left her father’s funeral without a word. Margo kept trying to get back on-topic, but von Braun distracted her.
At von Braun’s home, Margo and Wernher were having dinner. Von Braun could not believe Margo could not simply talk to him since they had known each other pretty much Margo’s entire life. Margo told him she forgave him, and to just give her the report, but von Braun told her that he wanted to tell her something her father never had, but that made no sense to Margo.
He told Margo about how he had met her father, and presented her with a suitcase, which contained something he mentioned he did not agree with. Before he started, he told Margo that her father loved her, which she did not see. However, von Braun mentioned that what he was telling her were facts that her father did not know how to tell her, but Margo did not agree since her father had been beyond “remote.”
Von Braun told her that during the war, her father had worked on very secret work for the government, which involved the Manhattan Project. Margo denied it, but von Braun presented her the files where it was explained that he worked on compressing a plutonium core to a critical mass through a spherical implosion, which led to the creation of the weapon that was used on Nagasaki. The bombing had a profound effect on her father, and both he and von Braun talked about the moral ramifications of the bomb, but Margo’s father ended up retreating from the world, and Margo.
Margo asks von Braun if she can keep the files, which he agrees to. She thanks him for having told her, and asks him for the report so she could go. Von Braun told her it was a long drive, so perhaps she could stay, which she refused since what they had talked about did not just wipe away everything that had happened between both of them. Von Braun reminisced with her, and told her he had pushed her when her father had wanted to but could not. Margo thanked him, but von Braun told her she was wasting her talent, not doing as well as Irene Hendricks. He asked her what she wanted to be doing in ten years; she said she would be running NASA, but von Braun told her she would not since she was not a team player. Margo defended herself, saying that she was in mission control, but von Braun told her that that was because he was her mentor, and Gene looked kindly upon her, but even with all her credentials, she was passed over for flight director which Wernher blamed her lack of social skills for. Margo once again asks him for the report, and von Braun gave it to her. He told her she had the key to her success in her hands, and told her to evaluate why the valve on the Apollo 23 had failed. He told her when he reviewed the supply chain for the Saturn, he found out the LH2 valve was manufactured by Kirkland Aerospace, which means NASA had changed the contractors in early 1973, asking why the change had been made.
Margo was going to read the report, but von Braun told her it was not necessary. The change in contract was so that Illinois would back the Equal Rights Amendment, so that the governor would be re-elected. Margo sat down, and wondered if Gene had only died for a political vote, but von Braun reminded her that eleven other men had also died. She mentioned the report would cause a fire in NASA, congress and the White House if it was made public. Margo asked why it would not be made public, and von Braun told her that the reason was that it holds potential to do great harm to the president, so the report would be buried. So, von Braun asked her who would benefit from the situation since every bureaucracy was corrupt.
When Margo handed Weisner the report, the latter mentioned that von Braun writes a compelling report. Margo asked what he was going to do with it, but he evaded the question and told her the board was thankful she had gone to von Braun’s home. She asked him if von Braun’s findings would be included in the final report on the explosion of the Apollo 23, but he told her that he was classifying it as top secret on his authority as NASA administrator. As an oath she had taken, she was bound not to reveal any knowledge she had about the report. Doing so could open her to being charged with revealing classified information and spending 20 years in a federal penitentiary. She muttered what von Braun had said, “every system is corrupt,” and told Weisner that she had made a copy which could be sent to The New York Times. Asking what she wanted, Margo told him she wanted what she deserved, and left.
Margo went to Aleida, and gave her a slide rule, telling her to go to her office in 20 minutes so she could show her how to use it. She asked Aleida if she could play the piano, and told her she would learn later.
Later, Margo was at NASA with Deke and Weisner. Deke told Margo that the neurologist was taking a second look at Shane and that they needed to tell Ed what was happening. Weisner said no, however, since Ed was all alone up there. Deke mentions that knowing Ed, he would want to know, but Margo argued that there had been many studies on the effects of bad news in high-pressure situations. Deke told Margo that this was not an equation, it was Ed's son and the astronaut had a right to know. Margo asked if anybody had talked to Karen, since she had heard a lot of opinions except for hers and it should be her call.
Aleida aplogized to Margo for arriving late a second time, but she had needed to run all the way to NASA. She asked Aleida about her necklace and her hickey. Margo told Aleida that she was looking forward to changing her life, but was not sure anymore since they needed to discuss Aleida's lies. She gives Aleida a letter from the Kennedy Math and Science Program, which she opened and found out she had been accepted for two advanced tracks. Margo told Aleida that that meant she would transfer to Kennedy school right after the first of the year, which was sooner than she expected and she had to leave all her friends, but Margo got angry since she was losing focus and she needed to work ten times harder than the men.
At mission control, Margo told everyone that she knew that everybody was thinking about Ed and Shane, but it was important for them to move forward with their work, so they had decided to not tell Ed so he could focus on Jamestown. This meant they needed to be careful with what they talked about with him especially since the press had gotten ahold of this information. Gordo and Danielle discussed the matter in private and told Margo that since they talked to him, they could not ask them to lie. Margo told them that if they did not lie, then she could find somebody else who would, telling them that this was at the request of Karen, so they would respect that.
Molly tells a crew about what they would be doing in order to help Apollo 25. Margo tells Weisner that they were the best people to do it. Weisner agrees and they decide to launch in two days.
Aleida walks in her house and finds her father with the Kennedy school papers. Octavio asks her why she did not tell him and she mentions that she was not sure that she wanted to go. However, her father found that ridiculous after all they had sacrificed and saw her as throwing it all away, realizing that it was probably because of the boy she was seeing, but she argued that she only wanted to stay with her friends. Octavio asked Aleida if she believed Margo had gotten to where she was by chasing boys and she reminded him that they were not in Mexico anymore and people liked to have fun sometimes, telling him that he did not understand America, so he grounded her.
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.
Margo blind to the possibilities of Apollo 25 saving Molly and safely returning and made the call to leave Molly and come home, Gordo disagreed and refused to do so, so she did so herself. Tracy also disagreed with Margo even though Cobb had agreed and asked for Gordo to be put back in communication. Margo told Gordo to not make her regret letting him attempt saving Molly.
Gordo guided Tracy through the process, while Margo asked about Apollo 24, but was told that they would know in two minutes. Tracy was losing fuel, but Molly was getting closer to them. In the end they managed to get to her and bring her back on board.
Mission control celebrates the landing of Apollo 25's crew, while Margo asks how 24 is doing. GUIDO is unable to communicate with them and all they knew was that they were headed for deep space.
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.
Margo explained to Weisner why it was troubling that 24 had wasted all their fuel and why what they had done had not worked. Weisner comments that he will call the president so he knew that everything was going badly once again. However, Margo mentions that there was something that Ed could do.
Aleida sees Margo at her office. She tells the young girl that she had heard about her father and Aleida told her what had happened. Margo sat down next to her and told her it would be okay since Octavio was smart. Aleida told her how everything was going and told her that she did not want to live with the woman, but Margo told her that it would only be temporary. Aleida asked her if she could stay with her and would not be a bother. Margo told her that they could still do their sessions, but living with her was a lot to ask at the moment.
Margo told mission control that they would have a 33 minute window during which 24 would be within lunar orbit range. Ed watched the transmission as well. Margo told everyone what to do and told them that if they did not play their cards correctly, Deke and Ellen might be lost in space. Gordo mentioned they might have another problem: the distance that Ed would be flying was pushing the LSAM's range. Ed asked about Apollo 15, since the descent stage still had fuel in it. They started working on it, and Margo told them that they did not have a lot of time.
Tracy and Molly walked back into mission control and were celebrated by everybody. When Gordo saw Tracy he ran up to her and kissed her. Molly told them to get a room, and then told everybody to settle down. She went to Margo, who tried to apologize by saying that she had to consider the safety of two astronauts over just her, but Molly told her that she had done the right thing and was not what she wanted to talk about. She proceeded to tell Margo that she thought that when their ship slammed into the side of 24 it may have knocked their antenna loose, which was the cause of their communication problems, but their short-rage radio might still be working. Margo thanked Molly, and Gordo told Tracy that she was not in uniform since she needed to wear gold. He gave her his pin, and she cried tears of joy.
Margo told everyone to focus and was handed a paper which prompted her to tell Danielle to call Ed so they could send him the fueling procedures.
Gordo told Ed that there were ten minutes left to launch, Ed then thanked Mikhail and gave the Soviet back the part to the rover and gave him his monitoring device. Mikhail wished Ed good luck, and the American left. He radioed Houston and began the launch sequenced helped by Gord, Danielle and Margo.
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.
1983[edit | edit source]
Margo wakes up at her office, which has a sofa bed and puts her glasses on. She takes a shower and gets ready for work. She calls Emma and asks her for messages; her assistant tells her that she had sent flowers and food to her aunt, who was expected to make a full recovery from her surgery. She gave her more messages and handed her an envelope and they leave, while Emma still gives her updates. She is told that there was possibly lithium near Jamestown, and she asks if the Soviets had been informed, which Emma confirms.
Margo enters a room, where she tells a worker that she can get him a new printer. She asks how the tests had gone and he responds that thirty pages of data told them they missed. She mentions that is bad luck, but hands him the envelope, which excites him since it contained Army-Air Force tickets at the 50-yard line. He thanks her and asks what they would cost him. She tells him they are a gift, but also tells him that now he might consider allowing the Kon-Tiki to land at Edwards and also freeing up space for a couple of polar launches form Vandenberg. He tells her the former is possible, but the pentagon did not like the latter, especially after Berlin. He tries handing the tickets back, but she tells him to keep them; as she left, he told her that he now owed her a favor.
Margo, Ed and Thomas got to mission control, where Margo told them that life on Earth was safe, but everything outside of the Earth's atmosphere was in danger, so they told different orbiting satellites to get closer to Earth, also ordering the Jamestown astronauts to get back to the base as soon as possible.
Margo is called by the general she talked to earlier, who tells her that nobody knew how the satellites would react to the solar flare and asked if they could shield them. Margo, however, told him that for now the best plan was to wait, but they would lose sight of the Russians. Margo mentions that the Russians would also lose satellites, but Bradford was not convinced. He called and recommended DEFCON 3, which Margo mentioned was close to declaring a nuclear war and reminded that it was just a solar storm. Margo thought what Bradford was saying was crazy, but the latter just left.
Earth was hit by the solar flare, and they lost all forms of communication. Margo asked Ed what the last headcount was, and he mentioned that ten minutes ago 14 were in the shelter and three were within visual sight of the base. He told her that Molly was a survivor and that they would be okay. Thomas told them that the White House would be explaining the storm and revealed that Raegan was on Air Force One since they were worried that the Soviets would make a move during the satellite blackout.
Thomas asked Margo how much radiation a human could take, and she mentioned that it varied and people could even develop cancer over time. She also said that each astronaut had a dosimeter badge which measured their radiation while on the moon.
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 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.
Margo walks up to Emma and asks her what the flashcard meant, but Emma asked if she was supposed to know who that was. Margo said that it was fine and went back to the meeting distracted by the name she had read.
Later, Margo tries getting a sandwich from a vending machine, but has to hit it in order to get it out. Finally, she sees that she can cause negative pressure within the machine, by opening and closing the "push" flap, and gets it out, screaming triumphantly.
On the moon, astronauts are moving towards Jamestown, but stop to take a look at gear they found on the way. It seems that they took their mining site, which they report to the base.
Ed tells Bradford and Margo that the only way that the Soviets knew about the lithium on the site was because they had cracked their code, despite NASA changing the encryption keys every month. Thomas tells them that Raegan had decided not to tell the United Nations, instead taking the mining site back by replacing the gear the Soviets had placed and holding the area. This was due to the fact that if they did not do anything, nothing would stop the Russians from taking other sites from them. Margo agrees, but Bradford is not very sure until Thomas tells him that the Russians cannot stay there forever, while Ellen tells them that they could have three teams monitoring the site at all times. Ed mentions that the security detail would need weapons, but Thomas says that nobody had mentioned weapons. Bradford and Ed can not see any other solution to the problem, but Ellen reminds them that even if they could modify guns in order to be used on the moon, no astronaut was qualified to use them. However, Ed and Bradford agree that if they sent marines to the moon, it would be possible. Margo says that there has to be another way, but they simply can not see another choice.
Margo drives and gets out of her car when she makes it to a trailer park. She knocks at a trailer and is asked to come in since the person inside needed help. She is asked to grab some toilet paper, which she does and hands the toilet paper to a girl who stretches her hand and has several aggressive looking bracelets on. She tells Margo that she is Aleida Rosales and tells her to leave if she was collecting bills, until Margo introduces herself once more. Aleida leaves the bathroom and looks at Margo in disbelief, greeting her once again.
Aleida asks Margo what she was doing there, so Margo explains that she had gotten a call from her boyfriend, Davey, telling her about the young woman being deported. Margo looks at a small keyboard and asks Aleida if she still played, but she says that she does not. Margo said that she wanted to apologize, but Aleida asked not to do that. Aleida mentioned that she was being deported since she had to have a job to stay in the United States, but she was a bad coworker and team player. Margo defended her, however, stating that she had called her former employers and they had all mentioned that she was a brilliant engineer despite her behavioral issues. Aleida asks Margo what she wants, and Margo says that she cannot explain why she did not take Aleida in ten years ago, she could now offer her a job as systems engineer, working on a low priority mission. She mentioned that it was not charity and was offering her a way out of her problem, but Aleida was not listening, so Margo told her that if she wanted the job, she should go to NASA.
At NASA astronauts tell Margo that they had not noticed any abnormalities at the time. Bradford tells Margo to ask about the overhead lights, so the astronauts check and find that Mikhail had managed to plant a bug at Jamestown when he was with Ed. Ed looks disappointed, while Thomas mentions that the president would not like that.
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.
Gordo and Ed sit at NASA while listening to their recordings while on their jets. They are joined by Thomas, Margo, and Molly who pauses the recordings and asks them to give her a good reason why she should not pull their tickets. Gordo says that he takes full responsibility, but Molly asks him when he had ever done such a thing. Ed tells her that he cannot take him off Pathfinder, but she reminded him that she could. She tells them that they have one last chance and tells them to leave. Thomas asks Molly if that was it, since he wanted a harsher punishment, but Molly told him that it was not that big a deal since things had gotten out of hand, which happened all the time. Thomas reminded her that the jets were expensive; Margo also told Molly that she should set a certain tone, but Molly reminded them that she would handle them as she saw fit.
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, Margo explains how the mission will proceed, and does not receive any questions in the quiet room. However, when Margo referred to the cosmonauts as "astronaut three and four," the Soviet representative told her they preferred being called "cosmonaut one and two," so as to not sound like afterthoughts. Margo agrees, and Sergei Orestovich Nikulov tells her that they would also suggest naming the mission "Soyuz-Apollo" instead. Margo moves forward, saying that the astronauts and cosmonauts needed to get to know each other, and the Russian immediately asked for their RF encryption protocol. Margo glanced over at Bradford and Thomas for an answer, and told the Soviet that they would exchange the encryption protocols, but the Soviet demanded that they show them first. As Margo continued explaining, the Soviet interrupted her, establishing the Soviet Union as the active mechanism, which did not please the NASA team at all.
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.
Margo visits Thomas and asks him to make the Russians go away, but he tells her that he wants this to happen, telling her that the handshake in space was his shining city on a hill so that people spoke about this gesture for years to come. He added that she needed to find a win-win scenario, which she does not like.
Margo knocks at the Sergei's office, who tells her that his bosses loved getting reports, which she empathizes with. She recommends playing livelier music, but he says that it would not be appropriate for him to listen to non-politically approved music at work, which surprises her. She tells him that they needed to find a way around the roadblock they had with the docking mechanism, but he told her that it was non-negotiable. She mentioned that the whole mission required them to be able to dock both ships together somehow, but he pointed his gaze towards the man who was outside and he told her that he believed that Soyuz-Apollo was a ruse in order to gain military advantage over the Soviets. Margo told him that if he really believed that, then he should head back to Moscow, writing on a sheet of paper that he should meet her at 11:59 at Club 11:59.
Margo plays the piano at the bar and sees the Soviet. He congratulates her on how she played the piano, and they sit down. She tells him that she was not sure if he would be able to get rid of the bodyguard following him, but he tells her that the Russians knew he would never defect. He asks her if 11:59 was a secret place for her, and she mentions that it is because she chose not to share that part of her life with many people, and they toast to their shared secrets. She explained the meaning behind 11:59, saying that it referenced the "doomsday device," which he mentions is not far from the truth, telling her that they had civil defense drills in all their major cities. She told him that she remembered doing them as a little girl and asks what they should do about the docking problem. They cut their coasters and represented the docking with them, which excited them both.
Margo and Sergei make it to NASA, discussing plans, only to find Aleida in the room. Margo was surprised, but introduced both of them. Margo asked what she was doing there, and Aleida mentioned that the universal docking system and needed some inspiration, so she figured it would be best to go to the source, which Sergei agreed with. Margo asked her if that was under her purview, but Aleida admitted that it was not. Sergei mentioned that engineers who liked to get their hands dirty were the best, and told Margo to keep her. Aleida thanked him, but Margo mentioned he was drunk. Margo showed the drawings, which Aleida described as beautiful; Margo agreed, but Aleida told her that it would not work since there was nothing to disperse the energy of contact and the hull could be ruptured if they were hit hard, which Margo agreed with. Aleida told them that they could place a ring and the three got to work.
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.
On a plane, Thomas tells Margo about Ellen's father who had had a heart attack and she sympathizes, knowing that Ellen wanted to go to Korea. Thomas wishes her father good luck so she could join him later. She asks him if he slept, but he mentions that he cannot sleep on planes. She tells him to read novels, but he makes a joke about it. He asks how Poole and Morrison were doing in Russia and she tells him that training was going smoothly. He liked hearing that and told her he wanted to check on negotiations for the EASA before he landed. As he asked, a jet behind the plane he was on shot a missile, and Margo lost connection to him.
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 walks to Sergei's room, but is told that nobody could go in or out of the room. Margo tells him she is the director of Johnson Space Center, but the soldier tells her that she would not get in anyway. She asks him his name, and he introduces himself as Sergeant John Perkins. She sympathizes with his position, but tells him he has 15 seconds before she contacts his superior officer until General Bradford was contacted, which landed him getting a beer later, or being transferred to Thule, Greenland.
The officer lets Margo in and she tells Sergei she brought borscht. She goes in the room and she tells him about their situation. Sergei asks her if she tried contacting the embassy, but she tells him that she was met with silence. He tells her that he does not think anything will happen to the astronauts, but she is not comforted. She asks if he has a way of contacting Star City, but he says that he is trapped in there with no phone. She asks if she can arrange a call, since astronauts Poole and Morrison were not a part of what was going on. He reminds her that he is not part of it either, but he was being held against his will. She tells him that Thomas Paine had been killed along with over 200 others which is why they were where they were at. Sergei gives Margo his condolences and she tells him that Thomas was a good man. He lets her know that in his religion when someone dies, it is custom to make the first meal you eat after the funeral, since it was believed that the steam will carry the soul of the departed to heaven. They eat their borscht and he tells her that when she gets him the phone he will call Moscow and tell them that he was not being tortured other than eating bad borscht.
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.
Bradford asks Margo if he was able to get Sergei to help them out, so she tells him that he would do his best. Bradford says that he expected that, but she believes it was worth trying. He lets her know that the Pentagon had received reconnaissance photographs in which it appeared that the Soviets had put their Buran shuttle on a launchpad, which they did not think was ready. He tells her that the photographs were from Sakhalin Island, where the Soviets had a secret military facility. She asks if the photographs were not taken by the commercial plane, and he denies it, but she did not buy it. He asks her if the Buran could be armed, but when she looks at the blueprints she asks where he got them. She does not get a reply, but tells him that it looked like their plans, so it could be armed. She sees their boosters and figures out that they were like their designs from two years ago, so they could blow up at any minute. She tells Bradford that they needed to warn the Soviets, but he says that smart Russians could figure it out. She tells him that if they decided to use Buran as a weapon it did not matter, since at the moment, they could save human lives, but Bradford refuses and tells her that the information was classified.
Margo hears Aleida struggling with the vending machine. She tells her to try negative pressure, which in the end works for her. She asks Aleida if she wanted something to wash her food down with since they had finally been able to reach their astronauts in Star City. Aleida thinks it is good and follows Margo.
In Margo's office, she pours them some brandy. She teaches Aleida how to hold the glass and the latter mentions it is strong, and points out that she never thought she had seen Margo that happy. Margo admits she is happy and adds that she can still be surprised by humanity at times. However, Aleida tells her to say that to Bill Strausser since he was the biggest jerk of all time. Margo tells her that he was harmless, but lacked social skills, calling him complicated but a good engineer and committed to his work. She tells her about an incident in which he had been at his console for 23 hours and refused to leave it, even urinating there which earned him the nickname Peanut. Margo tells her that if she could find a way to get along with Bill since even she did it, also reminding her that she would face many difficult people in her career.
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.
Margo visits Sergei, who tells her he would be going back to the Soviet Union, and she thanks him for his help. She tells him that after everything got resolved she wanted to see him again to continue planning the mission together. Sergei agrees, but Margo tells him that it might be a good thing to take a step back and see if anything with the docking module specs was wrong. He asks her what she means and she replies that she was worried they might have overlooked something, telling him that they had discovered a flaw a year ago with their boosters. Sergei understands and smiles, saying goodbye.
Tracy and the armed astronauts get ready to retake the claim and fly on the LSAM. They approach it while humming a tune. Tracy says the landing site was not clear, but she found one after a time. Tracy lands the LSAM and the astronauts get into the claim with their guns in hand, which make the Soviet cosmonauts leave. Bradford celebrated while Margo remained expressionless.
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.
When he leaves, Margo asks Emma to call Sergei and tell him that they needed to get back as soon as possible. She is told Gordo's flight Columbia would be taking off and she hopes he is sober.
Ed, Gary, and Sally are told by Bradford and Margo that the president had armed Pathfinder, so the mission would now be a joint mission between NASA and the Department of Defense. Ed asks if they would be firing missiles, and Braford informs him that there would be a fire exercise to demonstrate the system, firing towards drones which would simulate Russian satellites. They are told that Pathfinder's missiles were primarily for self-defense, which makes Sally question if they would be used for offensive purposes, but Margo tells them that that is not the mission plan.
Emma tells Margo that she had done a budget analysis the night before for the Pathfinder while she picks out her clothes for her meeting. Emma tells her to wear red since Sergei liked it, so Margo asks her why what Sergei liked mattered and Emma dismissed her idea.
Margo greets Sergei with her red blazer, which he immediately compliments her on. He tells her that there was a new directive from Moscow, mentioning the politburo had determined that the symbolism of the first handshake was important and it should be equidistant so, that nobody is the host or visitor. They get into the model, where they practice the handshake, but discuss where the camera would be. They decide to flip a coin in order to decide who would be the host. Sergei flips the coin towards Margo and as they try to find it, his pants get stuck, so their faces get close together. They are interrupted by Emma who tells her that there was a situation she was needed for.
At her office, Margo tells Aleida that Bill Strausser had quit and she was the cause of it. Aleida says she had not done anything, but Margo reads that after their conversation, Bill had seen he did not have the respect of his colleagues. She asks what she had said to him and Aleida admits to calling him Peanut, which shocks Margo. She tells Aleida that Bill had worked at NASA for over 20 years and did not deserve to leave over something like that, adding that if Aleida did not convince him to come back, she would fire her. Aleida tells her that she does not owe her anything and tells her that if she wanted to fire her, she should do it. Margo realizes that when something gets rough for Aleida, she gets mad and left her job.
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.
Danielle and her teammate discuss whether or not they would actually be launching the Apollo 75. They sit while they wait for Soyuz to launch. At mission control, Margo tells Bill and Aleida that they had received no word from Russia yet. As they wait, Margo gets a call from Sergei, who happily tells her that Soyuz had launched. Margo thanks him and tells them that they were ready to launch as well.
At mission control, Bill and Aleida supervise Apollo-Soyuz, when a man tells Flight that Jamestown was depressurizing, so he tried to contact them to no avail. Margo finds out, and Rossi comes in, saying that they had been having some issues with their sensors and pressure returns to normal.
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.
Sergei tells Margo that they would need to delay docking once more since they needed more time, which Margo does not agree with. Sergei apologizes and tells her that the best he could do would be giving her their state vector for their next docking opportunity, which Margo accepts.
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 walks to a telephone and types the number that Sergei gave her. He picks up and apologizes and she tells him to come clean with her. He admits that they were having avionics issues, which Margo does not buy, but he tells her that if he told his supervisor that they were having problems, then the mission would be called off. He tells her he was trying to do the best he could, but she tells him that she could only do one more orbit.
Margo tells mission control to contact Rossi, but they get no response.
Margo tells 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.
Aleida gets a snack and hears a radio sounding. She walks into a small room and hears Gordo communicating. She reveals herself and Gordo greets her. Aleida walks up to Margo and Molly and tells them about Gordo, so both of them rush with her.
Molly asks Gordo and Tracy if they had been in contact with anyone, but Gordo reveals that the comms had been taken down and they had no suits. Margo tells them that in about 45 minutes there would be a massive nuclear meltdown which would kill everyone on the base and rendering Shackleton uninhabitable for a thousand years. Gordo asks what they can do and is told that they could swap out the cable connectors from the backup computer to the primary loop, but they had no way to reach them with no suits on. Gordo asks how far the cables were and says that he could get to them, but Tracy and Margo tell him it was not possible. Molly defends him, however, and says that if they gave him some sort of protection, he could last longer outside.
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.
After everything, Margo gets a call from Sergei, who called to convey his respects. Margo understands and tells her that they were heroes for the entire world. He asks if she would be at the ICSE conference in the UK that summer and invites her for a drink if she goes. She says she would check if she would go, but tells him she would see what she could do.
After the call, Sergei is told he did a good job by a superior, who tells him that by the time Margo realized she was working for them, it would be too late.
Margo, unaware of her counterpart's circumstances, silently reminisces at the grave of John F. Kennedy. The camera pans away into the atmosphere, then overlooking the entire Earth, then panning over to the moon, and finally zooms in on Mars.