Space Cowboys
128 Pages
English
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Space Cowboys

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128 Pages
English

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By Ken Kaufman and Howard Klausner

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SPA

CE

COWBOYS

Writtenby
KENKAUFMANandHOWARDKLAUSNER

May1999Draft

FOREDUCATIONAL
PURPOSESONLY

MANUALMILITARYTYPEWRITER

hammersoutascreennarration:

SUPERIMPOSE:OCTOBER,1958.

ThesuccessfullaunchofSputnikIhas
startedrumorsthatmannedspaceflight
isayearawayfortheSovietUnion.The
UnitedStateshasassumedthetitanic
challengeof"Takingthehighgroundof
   space."

EXT.USAFPROVINGGROUND(CALIFORNIAHIGHDESERT)-DAY

ASONICBOOMinthecrystalbluedesertsky.Amodified
BellLabsX-2UltrasonicJET--basicallyarocketwith
stubbywingsthatlookmorelikevestigialfins--
SCREAMSupwards,an80degreeclimbintospace.Onits
sideisstylishlypainted"Daedalus."

INT.X-JET-CLOSEONALTIMETER-THATMOMENT

108,999FEET...THE"999's"rollover.

Thepilot'svoicestrainswiththeG-forcesandthinoxygen.

PILOT(V.O.)
109,000.Comeon,Frank,let's
pokeournoseintospace.

ThepilotisMajorWILLIAM"HAWK"HAWKINS,26.In
theseatbehindhimisMAJORFRANKCORVIN,29.Bothwear
bulkypressuresuitsandspacehelmets.

FRANK
No.That'senough,Hawk.We're
approachingheatbarrier.Let's
leveloff.
(intohisradio)
RecoverOne,thisisFalcon.
Beginningdescentnow.

INT.AIRFORCEB--THATMOMENT

TwelvemilesbelowtheX-2.Barrel-chested,buzz-cutted
Captain"TANK"SULLIVANisatthecontrols.

TANK
Roger,Daedalus.Gotyouonthe
scope,Frank.

Tanksharpenstheradarblip.Ashedoes,weseea
plastichulagirlnoptnemurtsniehtncing"anel"da

frenetically.

INT.X--THATMOMENT

Thealtimeterhits110,000.FrankandHawkarebreathing
harder.

HAWK
Bingo.110,000thfloor,ladies'
lingerie.

TheDRONEoftherocketMOTORHESITATES--ananosecond
atmost--thenRESUMESasnormal.

FRANK
Youcatchthat,Hawk?

Hawkisinthezone,listeningandfeelingtheairplane.

Hawk!

FRANK

EXT.DESERTGROUNDBELOW--THATMOMENT

CaptainJERRYO'NEILLsitsoutsideaUSAFtruckinfront
ofaradarscreenreadingaPlayboymagazine.Hereads
thecopyaloudtohimself.

JERRY
MissSeptember,herselfa
promisingstudentpilot,hasa
particularweaknessforstructural
engineerswithPh.D.'sinastro-
physics.

HeslowlymovesthePlayboyawayandseesascorpion
climbinghisbareankle.Herollsupthemagazine
tightly,holdsitabovethescorpion,readytoswatit.
Helooksatthescorpion...helooksatMissSeptember's
smilingfaceandairbrushed-breast...

Hecan'tdoit,hecan'tsullythisredheadedvision:He
calmlygrabsthescorpionbyitsstingertailandflings
it.Hawk'svoicecracklesovertheRADIO.

HAWK(V.O.)
She'salright,she'stalkingtome.
Youtrustme,don'tyou,Frank?

JERRY
Uhoh...herewegoagain.

INT.X--THATMOMENT

THROUGHthecanopy--thehorizon--theblueturnsto

2.

black.HawkandFrankaretouchingouterspace.

Frank,look.

HAWK

ThefullmoonisrisingoverthecurvatureoftheEarth.

HAWK
(calm,farawayvoice)
That'swherewe'regoing.Idon't
knowhow,Idon'tknowwhen...

Franklooksupfromthegaugesatthehorizon.Heis
mesmerized,speechless.Hawkstartstosing.Awesome
pilot,lousysinger.

HAWK
Flymetothemoonandletmeplay
amongthestars--

Franklooksoutthewindowatthemoon.TheROCKETMOTOR
HESITATESAGAIN,SPUTTERSandGOESSILENT.Allthegauges
droptozero.Enginefailure.Frankisjoltedbackto
reality.

HolyGod.

FRANK

AllwehearistheWINDbuffetingtheplaneandtheeerie
soundoftheplane'sairframeandbodyskinCREAKING.
Hawkworksfranticallytorestarttheengine,tryingto
jokethroughit.

HAWK
Hey,Frank,wannagetoutand
gimmeapush?

FRANK
Sonofabitch!

They'renosingover,beginningwhateverypilotdreads
most--aflatspin.ThecockpitALARMSOUNDS.

HAWK
Wehavetoeject.

FRANK
At112,000feet?!Areyououtta
yourmind?!

HAWK
We'renotgonnaridethisthingout.
CallMayday--we'repopping!

FRANK
(gaspingforair)
Wearenot...losing...another...
ship!

3.

EXT.X--THATMOMENT

Spinningwildly,plummetingtowardsground.Theright
wingshuddersandripsaway--theplaneinvertsinits
spin.

INT.X--THATMOMENT

HAWK
Don'tthinkaboutit,Frank.Just
doit.I'mgonnacountdownto
one.Ready?One!

HawkyankstheT-handle.TheexplosiveBOLTSBLOWthe
canopyoff.Twoscreams,oneofterror,oneofjoy,
astheyeject,thesupersonicwindhittingthemlikea
truck.

FrankandHawkareinfreefall--22milesoverthe
desert.Approachingthespeedofsound,theyscream
towardsEarth.Frankisparalyzedinastillfall.

Hawktumblesandsoarslikehisnamesake,livingevery
man'sultimatefantasy--pureflight.Sidebyside,he
seemsknarFtnuatotouabsieflehast.Frankpullsihs
ripcordat22,000,arrestinghisfall.Hawkkeepsright
ongoing.

EXT.GROUND-THATMOMENT

Jerry,binocularstrainedskyward,seesFrank'sparachute
deployOMBOginerndhutehtsraehehtnethemomexactlyta
oftheplanecrashingintothedesertfloor,

JERRY
That'sgottabeFrank...but
where'sHawk?

EXT.SKY-THATMOMENT

Hawkissoaring,spinning,laughingandscreaming,
ignoringthegroundcomingupquick.

INT.B--THATMOMENT

TanksearchesthroughthewindscreenforHawk,when
Hawk aiflngli-a-sh,flaly-realeef--rfrgilasltaspht
thecockpitwindshield,startlingTank.

Whooashit!!

TANK

4.

Hebanksthehugeplanehardlefttoavoidhittinghim.
Tankgrimlytakesthedancinghulagirloffthe
instrumentpanel,replacesherwithaplasticdashboard
Jesus.

EXT.SKY-HAWK

Onethousandfeet--Machoneplus.Sluggish,lethargic,
almostout.Hewillshiseyesopentoseetheground
comingupmightyfastandpullsthecord;thechute
releases.Agut-wrenchingforcenearlyyankshimoutof
theharnessasheispulledskyward--700mphtozeroin
threeseconds.Heopenshisfaceplate,gulpingair,
laughinglikeaschoolboy.

EXT.GROUND-THATMOMENT

Jerrylaughs,relieved,whenheseesthesecondchute.
Heclimbsintothetruck,tossesthePlayboyasideand
STARTStheENGINE.

JERRY
Crazysonofabitchalmostmade
likeabugonawindshield.

Hawktouchesdowneasily.Hefallsbackonhischute,
elated.

EXT.EDWARDSAIRFORCEBASE-THATMOMENT

Establishing.

INT.OFFICE-DAY

CUTTO:

TheofficeofMajorBOBGERSON,AirForceSpecial
ProjectsAdministrator.Only27,Gersonalreadyhasthe
lookofapolishedbureaucrat.Helooksoutthe
panoramicwindowbehindhisdeskatathick,blackcolumn
ofsmokerisingabovethedesert--obviouslythe
experimentalX-2.SIRENSaudible.

Hislookisneitheralarmnorconcern.Hestudiesthe
scenecoldlyandobjectivelylikeascientist.Andhis
eyesseemtosmile,asthoughthisisnorealcatastrophe
tohim.

EXT.DESERT-THATMOMENT

CUTTO:

AsFrankdescends,heliftshisfaceplateandlooksout

5.

at--

Acolumnofblacksmokeonthehorizon--wheretheX-2
crashed.

Franktouchesdown--notquiteasgracefulorelatedas
Hawk.Matteroffact,hetumblesover,caughtinthe
chuteandrigging.Alookofsingle-mindedrevengeon
hisface,drawotsergFsmihflednarahckanhaunesrnsse
Hawkawkwardlyinhisstiff,cumbersomepressuresuit.
Hawksitsup,howlswithjoy.

HAWK
112,000andIfeelfine!Let'sdo
itagain,Frank!

FrankpunchesHawkthroughtheopenfaceplateofhis
helmet,knockinghimoffhisfeet.

FRANK
Youalwayshavetopushthingsto
theirlimit,don'tyou?

HAWK
That'swhatIdobest,Frank.

Frankdivesonhim,theylockupinafight.Jerryjumps
outofthejust-arrivingtruck,anddivesintothemelee,
tryingtopullthemapart.

INT.BOBGERSON'SOUTEROFFICE-LATERTHATDAY

CUTTO:

Frankenters,literallyhatinhand.Hawkfollowshim
in,hatstillonhishead.Frankswipesitoff,shoves
itintohishands.ThedutysergeantopensGerson's
door.

INT.GERSON'SOFFICE-CONTINUOUSACTION

Theyenter,Gersonfacesouthispanoramicwindow--we
canstillseethesmokefromthebrushfirecausedbythe
crashoftheX-2.

GERSON
IsthatsmokeIsmell?Lookslike
afireoutbyRidgecrest.

FRANK
WecrashedtheX-2.

GERSON
Myfour-milliondollarX-2?Is
thattheX-2you'rereferringto?

6.

HAWK
Wedidbreakbothaltitudeand
speedrecords,sir.Andbeat
thefreefallmarkby30,000feet.

FrankglaresatHawk.

GERSON
Threeplanesintenmonths.That's
boundbottoo,rd,recoea.iksnHwa

FRANK
Theenginefailed.Theaircraft
wentintoaflatspinandwe
couldn'trecover.

Gersonnods"compassionately."Nodoubtthatthesetwo
despiseoneanother.

GERSON
(patronizing)
Butyoumadeit.That'sthe
importantthing.
(glancesathiswatch)
Andyoumadeitjustintime,
Frank.

INT.PRESSROOM-MOMENTSLATER

CUTTO:

CrammedwithPRESSpeopleandphotographers.Theysnap
away,shoutingquestionstoGersonatthepodium,flanked
byTeamDaedalus:Frank,Hawk,JerryandTank,whosmile
forthednahsihiuqrofdan,etmeras.calosdupeGsrnoh
producesanenvelopewiththePresidentialseal.

GERSON
Gentlemen,Iholdinmyhandan
announcementfromtheofficeof
thePresident.
(readingthe
announcement)
'TheUnitedStates'continued
involvementinmannedspace
explorationisherebyassigned
toanewcivilianagency,The
NationalAeronauticsandSpace
Administration.ProjectDaedalus
isnowcomplete,anddesignated
MissionAccomplished.

Hefoldsuptheannouncement.Frankisutterlyconfused.

ANOTHERREPORTER(PRESS)
Whataboutthepilots?Who's
gonnabethefirstAmericanin

7.

space?

GersonturnstoFrank,smiling.Heslapshimonthe
shoulder.

GERSON
Theselectionhasbeenmade.
Afteranexhaustivesearchwehave
identifiedwhocouldbestcarry
outthismission.
(totheTeam)
Thisjobcallsfortoughness--
physicalandmentaltoughness--
andanabilitytofollowordersto
theletter.

FrankandHawkexchangeglances,wonderingwhichitwill
be.Neitherofthemnoticesasergeantwalkingin,
holdingthehandof...

SAM

athree-footchimpanzeewearingaNASAflightsuit.

GERSON
Gentlemen,meetSam.Thefirst
Americantocrossintoouter
space.

Thechimpgrinshuge.FrankandtheTeamareopen-
mouthed,inshock.Gersonpickshimup,smilingforthe
photo-op.Theflashbulbsandquestionseruptlikea
thunderstorm.SamreacheshishandouttoFrank.

GERSON
Oh,look,Frank.Hewantsto
shakeyourhand.

Youbastard.

FRANK

GERSON
Shakehishandforthecameras,
Frank.That'sanorder.

Frankslowlytakesthechimp'shand,lookingasthoughhe
mightbesick.Thecamerasflashmore,blindingan
alreadystunnedman.

EXT.JOHNSONSPACECENTER(HOUSTON)-DAY

Establishing.SUPERIMPOSE:THEPRESENT

INT.SPACETRACKINGROOM-DEEPINCOMPLEX-MORNING

8.

Ifit'slargerthanabasketballandit'sorbitingthe
Earth,itistrackedhere.PureNASA.Hi-Tech,all
business.

Fiveengineerssitatcomputersbangingawayattheir
keyboardsinfrustration.Astronaut/EngineerETHAN
GLANCE,34,pushesbackfromtheconsole.Ethanusually
hastheclean-cutswaggeroft,narranagoghdsaneomunyo
manwithtoomanylettersafterhisname.Today,
however,he'sgotthedishevelledlookofaguywho's
beenupallnightworking.

ETHAN
Itjustisn'tresponding.

TheengineernexttoEthanturnstoanotherengineer--
andtranslatesinRussiantoher.

INT.ADMINISTRATIVEWING-CORRIDOR-THATMOMENT

Engineersandadministratorsmoveabout,focused,witha
purpose.

INT.OFFICE-CONTINUOUSACTION

Thesignonthedooridentifiesthisastheofficeof
SARAHOLLAND,SpaceShuttleMissionDirector.Thirty-
seven,ex-astronaut,focusedlikealaserbeamon
anythingshepaysattentionto.

Rightnow,shescansathickcomputerprintout,shaking
herheadatwhateverit'stellingher.ThePHONERINGS,
shegrabsitabsent-mindedly.

SARA
SaraHolland.Okay,beright
there.

INT.NASACONFERENCEROOM-MOMENTSLATER

AttheconferencetablesitFlightDirectorEUGENEDAVIS
(60s),anavuncular,rotundman.

BesidehimareNASAadministrators,acoupleofSTATE
DEPARTMENTOFFICIALS,orbitalengineers,Russian
engineersfromStarCity,andtheRussianGeneralVOSTOV
(50s).

Saraenters,armsfulloffilesandprintouts.

BOBGERSON,now67,quicklyrisestomeether.Agehas
beenkindtotheretiredGeneral-turned-NASAProject
Director:Heatleasthastheappearanceof
venerability.

9.