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Армагеддон/ Armageddon

FADE IN :

Blackness. Then a hint of green becomes EARTH. It lies across an expanse of space. Richly colored. Fertile.

A GIGANTIC ASTEROID cuts into frame, Burning into EARTH'S ATMOSPHERE and striking down in the currant area of Guzumel, Mexico.

Voice : An impact equivalent to ten thousand nuclear weapons detonating simultaneously.

A HUGE DINOSAUR FOOT steps down hard and is VAPORIZED with a deafening ROAR.

Voice : One hundred trillion tons of dirt and rock hurled into the atmosphere.

EARTH, seen from space, is rocked with an IMMENSE SHOCKWAVE. A SHEET OF DEBRIS washes across the North and South Hemispheres.

Voice : A blanket of dust the sun is powerless to penetrate. For five thousand years our world is robbed of light as a nuclear winter falls. In that darkness, a civilisation is removed from existence.

EARTH is now completely entombed in a dark, cold hell. Letters push towards us--

"A R M A G E D D O N"

65 MILLION YEARS LATER

EARTH, reflected off the face of ASTRONAUT PETE SHELBY'S HELMET. It appears close enough to touch. Shelby, attached to SHUTTLE ATLANTIS BY LIFELINE, struggles to replace a piece of the shuttle's operational arm.

Shelby : (with radio squawking) Houston, I can't get this thing to work...

EXT. N.A.S.A. - MISSION CONTROL - DAY

In a hub of computers and tracking equipment, we find DAN GOLDEN, former Astronaut from Apollo 8 (first crew to orbit the Moon) and now N.A.S.A's second-in-command. Golden is watching Shelby on a SERIES OF VIDEO SCREENS. FLIGHT DIRECTOR WALTER CLARK sits with rows of N.A.S.A Techs. Golden stands over him, arms on the back o his chair.

Clark : Atlantis, what's the problem? Shelby : (V.0) It just isn't working. Any suggestions? Clarke : Hang on Pete. We'll figure something out for you.

Golden taps Clark and sits down.

Golden : (to Shelby) We got the top scientific minds in the world working on this. (a slight smile) Try "whacking" the thing. Shelby : Okay, Houston, commence whacking.

Selby begins Whacking the satellite with his glove. The SATELLITE comes n-line, lights up like a Christmas tree.

A HORRIFYING RUMBLING SOUND. SHOTGUN LIKE PELLETS assault the satellite. SHRAPNEL rips into it's delicate gold skin. The satellite EXPLODES. Shelby's lifeline breaks; he spins off, suit leaking from twenty punctures.

INT. SHUTTLE ATLANTIS

COMMANDER JAMES TURNER turns to his left

General : "WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?"

EXT. SHUTTLE ATLANTIS

STOTGUN LIKE PELLETS shred through Atlantis' N.A.S.A. logo, peeling the shuttle down to her ribs. FIERY EXPLOSION.

EXT. SPACE

CLOSE ON SHELBY as he twirls away from Atlantis. His helmet is fogging. He gasps for air, wretching, his eyelids leaking blood. He tries to form words:

Shelby : Ple...he...me....

Shelby's SHOULDER-CAM angle spins end-over-end....

INT. N.A.S.A - MISSION CONTROL MONITORS go dead.

N.A.S.A. Technician #1 : All systems crashing! N.A.S.A. Technician #2 : Massive failure. We lost them.

Utter silence. Utter desolation. DOLLY IN ON GOLDEN'S FACE. Utter disbelief.

INT. WKU MOUNTIAN OBSERVATORY - NIGHT

THEO and PEARL (at telescope), and JIMBO (at the console), 20's, are star-gazing. Astronomy books, Starbucks cups, etc.,spread all over. Nine Inch Nails plays on the radio. These three could land a date if only they would lose the road flares (plaid shirts, glasses) that signal the painful fact that they are die-hard science nerds THEO'S POV - THROUGH WKU TELESCOPE - Far off in space is a dusty, murky swarm of matter - something resembling a FLOATING EXPLOSION.

Jimbo : When are we going to let N.A.S.A in on what we've found? Theo : We don't even know what we have yet. Comet, asteroid - it could be anything up there. And don't be so eager to red flag N.A.S.A. They don't call us when they discover anything. Jimbo : Yeah, but this is their sandbox were playing in. Theo : This is our discovery. We're going to hold a press conference. We're going to be famous. SPACEWATCH'll name this thing after us. Job offers are going to fly in from all the big companies. J.P.L., that think tank up at M.I.T., hell even N.A.S.A. 'll be chasing us. Pearl : I'm going on Oprah, Larry King, Letterman... Jimbo : Hell with them, I'm going on Howard Stern.... Pearl : (concentrating) This things really acting up tonight. We should find out if anyone else knows about this. Theo : How? Jimbo : (master of factly) Call N.A.S.A Theo : And say what? "Hi, we're a couple astronomer geeks who found something really bitchin; floatin' in space." You can't just call N.A.S.A. It's like calling the White House. Besides, you'll never get the number. Jimbo : I have the number. I got it from "Mega monster." Pearl : Who? Jimbo : He's some super-hacker, I went to high school with. Guy's totally wired into every encrypted government installation. Theo : He's also an ex-con. Jimbo : They never proved he shut down the power in those seven states.

Theo grabs the phone.

INT. HOUSTON TEXAS - JOHNSON SPACE CENTER - NIGHT

Golden and his crew, devastated and exhausted, search for answers. We cut around the room.

Clark : What the hell was that? Technician 1 : Space junk? Technician 2 : Too big, too much. It took out the whole shuttle. Clark : The press is going to want answers. What are we going to say? Golden : Nothing. Not until we know what happened.

INTERCUT - N.A.S.A. MISSION CONTROL/WKU OBSERVATORY

INT. N.A.S.A. - MISSION CONTROL

Two N.A.S.A. techs, FLIP and SKIP, looking very haggard, furiously typing numbers into the circulator. The phone RINGS, Flip answers.

Jimbo : (whispers to Pearl & Theo) I got mission control....! Flip : Yeah, Mission Control. Jimbo : (into phone) Uhh hi, I'm an astronomer in Kentucky, and I was wondering if you guys had seen some strange activity in the southern middle quadrant of the asteroid belt between Antares Major and Epsilom Scorpio.... Flip : Who is this? Jimbo : My name? Uhh....Louis Lipshitz... Flip : This is a restricted line. How did you get it? Where are you? Jimbo : Lexington... Massachusetts. Flip : Can you tell me the exact co-ordinates..? Theo : Hang up! Hang up now!

Jimbo hangs up the phone.

Theo : Lexington.. uhh...Massachusettes. Idiot. I told you not to call them.

EXT. MANHATTAN ISLAND - SUNRISE

Establishing. The sun rises over the Brooklyn Bridge.

EXT. MANHATTEN - MADISON AVENUE - EARLY MORNING

LITTLE GUY, still yawning, exits an apartment with a Jack Russell terrier on a long RETRACTABLE LEASH. TERRIER'S POV as the little dog attacks the city, looking for a place to relieve himself. The Man stops in front of a "Crazy Eddie's" T.V. store. Floor-to-ceiling T.V.'s in the window broadcasting E.S.P.N.'s "Morning Exercise Show" with hot women SWEATING.

The Jack Russell strains on the leash to a FIRE HYDRANT. A SHOE is next to the hydrant, connected to a HUGE SAMOAN GUY watching the pelvic thrusting on T.V. The dog lifts his leg and pees, hitting both hydrant and shoe. The huge Samoan guy kicks the dog. The dog YELPS.

Little Guy : You kick my dog again and I'll go nuclear on you.

The T.V. images BLINK and STATIC. A massive SONIC BOOM emanates directly above. The huge Samoan guy looks up as---

A ROCK, the size of a basketball, strikes him and EXPLODES into the pavement, spewing sparks and concrete, throwing PEDESTRIANS to the sidewalk.

INT. "CRAZY EDDIE'S" T.V. STORE

FIFTY T.V.s are BLOWN across the showroom floor. SALESMEN and CUSTOMERS dive to the floor, SCREAMING.

EXT. MANHATTEN - "CRAZY EDDIES"

Little guy, lying on the sidewalk, recovers. His DOG LEASH runs from the leash grip into a 10 FOOT CRATER in the sidewalk. The huge Samoan guy's LEGS protrude.

Little Guy : Samson? Pedestrian : Somebody call 9-1-1!

INSIDE THE CRATER - THE JACK RUSSELL dangles by the leash. Embedded in the hole 30 feet below is A SMOKING, RED HOT OBJECT.

INT - N.O.R.A.D. - CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN

The U.S.'s Early Warning Air Defence. Two U.S.A.F RADAR TECHNICIANS are hunched over radar screens.

Radar Tech 1 : I got one, two, three boggies...the whole board's lighting up!

The RADAR TECH 2 hits a KLAXON, stabs phone line buttons.

EXT. MANHATTEN - MORNING

Traffic is ground to a halt. CAMERA MOVES into a cab. STU, the Cabbie, with an ASIAN TOURIST, who's craning his neck out the window.

Asian Tourist : What's the problem? Stu : Could be a couple of things: shootin', stabbin', dead guy (shrugs) Well, it's Friday, payday. Could be a jumper.

A projectile the size of a dump truck SCREAMS through the sky and blasts through three huge buildings.

More projectiles explode in the intersection. Cars get thrown everywhere. Stu's cab slams upside down into JOHNNY'S BAR.

ONE BLOCK DOWN. THE ENTIRE TOP FIVE STORIES -- A sheared section topples and hits the street below. Bricks, mortar and gargoyles everywhere.

EXT. WASHINGTON D.C. - PENTAGON - DAY

Establishing, over which we hear RINGING PHONES.

EXT. PENTAGON - GENERAL TEMPLE'S OFFICE - DAY

Chaos in the corridors. GENERAL TEMPLE, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a man of stature, bursts out of his office, met by his SECRETARY.

Secretary : We're getting reports as far away as Greenland and parts of Mexico! Temple : Get me Dan Goldman on the secure phone.

Temple enters his office and picks up a secure phone.

INT. MISSION CONTROL - INSIDE THE GLASS-ENCASED ROOM

Golden enters the room and sits down. Technician Flip hands him a secure phone. Golden sinks into his chair. In the b.g., VIDEO MONITORS show twenty live feeds from T.V. stations across the country.

Temple : (V.O.) Can you go secure? Golden : (presses a button on the phone) I am secure. Go ahead, General.

He listens...WE HEAR the distinct gargled voice of a secure line.

Golden : When? Temple : (V.O.) Twelve minutes ago. Now you know what happened to your shuttle.

INTERCUT - GOLDEN / TEMPLE

INT. PENTAGON - GENERAL TEMPLE'S OFFICE - DAY

Temple paces in his office.

Temple : I'm going to brief the President. What's going on here, Dan? Why didn't we have warning? Golden : Tell the president it's called "budget cuts." We don't have enough telescopes to track the skies. Temple : Is it over? Golden : I don't know. We'll figure it out. (hangs up)

INT. MISSION CONTROL - INSIDE THE GLASS-ENCASED ROOM

Flip enters the room. Skip writes notes....

Golden : (to Skip and Flip) Fly a team up to New York. Contact every Space Watch facility in the world. We gotta find what part of the sky this is coming from. Skip : I'll call J.P.L. and get the Hubble telescope on it. Golden : Did we find who made the phone call last night? Flip : The F.B.I.'s on it.

INT. KENTUCKY - DORMITORY ROOM

Theo is sleeping. The door is RAMMED in. Two F.B.I. AGENTS ROAR into the room, overwhelming him.

EXT. KENTUCKY - COLLEGE CAMPUS

Pearl and Jimbo are walking across campus. TWO BLACK SEDANS pull up. The kids increase their pace.The sedans SKID to a stop. F.B.I. AGENTS spring from the cars, cuff them and CUT TO :

MANHATTEN - JOHNNY'S - DAY

Stu's upside down cab, in front of Johnny's. A tow truck removes dented cars from the trashed intersection. Career drunks, FRANK, FRED and WILLIE, stand in the threshold looking out at the devastated intersection. Stu sits on top of his cab, Listening to the guys:

Frank : This city sucks... Fred : What the hell was it? Willie : They're sayin' it's space rocks. Stu : Rocks from space, my ass. That, my friends, was the work of the big Saddam. That was big-ass Iraqi missiles

INT. MANHATTAN - SUBWAY - DAY

F.B.I. AGENTS and N.A.S.A. SCIENTISTS examine a CHUNK OF ASTEROID, still smouldering, which has ripped through the roof and floor of a subway car. The plastic seats and aluminium panelling of the car has melted.

EXT. KENTUCKY - INTERROGATION ROOM - AFTERNOON

Jimbo, Theo and Pearl sit in front of three F.B.I. AGENTS. Two N.A.S.A. ASTRONOMERS look over the kids' TELESCOPE PHOTOS with concern.

Jimbo : So, that N.A.S.A. guy wasn't kiddin; about bein' arrested and.... Federal Agent : Please shut up. Jimbo : Yes, absolutely, yes sir. N.A.S.A. Astronomer : I'm a N.A.S.A. astronomer. When were these photos taken? Federal Agent : And which of you called N.A.S.A. Mission Control last night? Jimbo : (points at Theo) Him. Theo : (points at Jimbo) Him. Jimbo : I was calling the Houston area code, which is 713. I was calling 712, which is outside Spokane, Washington, where my Aunt Zelda.... N.A.S.A. Astronomer : Tell us the exact ascension angle of your telescope when this was taken. Theo : It's our discovery. No way. N.A.S.A. Astronomer : Your "discovery" killed close to 100 people in New York alone - people who could've used a warning.

Jimbo, Theo and Pearl lower their eyes.

Jimbo : Our math must've been off! we thought it was gonna pass the Earth! Pearl : Ascension 712, retention 345. F.B.I. Agent 2 : And you've told no one about this- not your teachers, not your friends? N.A.S.A. Astronomer : (into cellular phone) J.P.L., please. Search co-ordinates...

INT. PASADENA CALIFORNIA - J.P.L. - NIGHT

N.A.S.A.'s Jet Propulsion Laboratory: home of the HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE. Two J.P.L. TECHNICIANS man the Hubble's control console.

J.P.L. Technician 1 : New info! Plot co-ordinates 712 by 345. Let's move on high-resolution imaging. J.P.L. TECHNICIAN 2 punches the co-ordinates into a control console.

EXT. OUTER SPACE - CONTINUOUS (DAY)

The HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE floats by in geosynchronous orbit. The telescope tilts, repositioning in view.

INT. PASADENA CALIFORNIA - J.P.L. - NIGHT

Images from the Hubble arrive on a high resolution printer. J.P.L. Technician 1 grabs four PHOTOS from the printer. Technician 2 swipes stuff off the console, making room. Together they arrange the four photos. They star silently at the awesome COMPOSITE PHOTO.

J.P.L. Technician 1 : Motherfu......

INT. N.A.S.A. - MISSION CONTROL - ENCLOSED ROOM - NIGHT

Golden and all his TECHNICIANS crowd around a console, staring at a smaller version of the COMPOSITE PHOTO.

Golden : Copies to the Pentagon, Colorado Space Command, and the Washington office. We gotta compute size, composition, speed, impact point

WE SEE the photo -- A HUGE ASTEROID

EXT. OUTER SPACE - CONTINUOUS - DAY

CAMERA PUSHES THROUGH A CLOUD OF ROCKY, ICY DEBEIS, penetrating the cloud until the HUGE ASTEROID CORE comes into clear view -- a mass of dirt and ice -- rough, craggy, menacing. INT. N.A.S.A. - BRIEFING ROOM - NIGHT

Golden and Clark enter. A group of ten N.A.S.A. SENIOR TECHNICIANS are all talking at once.

Golden : Okay guys, one of the worst days in N.A..S.A history just got worse. Ten million to one. A rogue comet came from deep space and collided with an asteroid. Some kids actually got a picture of the collision event and told no one. The stuff that hit this morning was the collision's forward-thrown matter, mere pebbles from what's about to come. Walter? Clark : A big asteroid. E.T.A., eighteen days. A lot bigger than the five mile one that obliterated the dinosaurs. Golden : The size of Texas.

Silence. Everybody stares at each other.

The phone CHIRPS.

Golden's Secretary : Director, the Pentagon.

Golden hits a button.

A LARGE T.V. SCREEN establishes AUDIO/VISUAL link.

INTERCUT; PENTAGON - SITUATION ROOM/ N.A.S.A. - BRIEFING ROOM

INT. PENTAGON - SITUATION ROOM - NIGHT

Temple sits with the Joint Chiefs, White House Chief of Staff, the Directors of the N.A.S.A., C.I.A., etc.

Temple : Dan, we're all here. Tell us what we're up against. Golden : (V.O.) In it's simplest terms? The end of Mankind. One asteroid, one mile wide or bigger, impacts the Earth with the equivalent force of all the nuclear weapons in the world, times a thousand. Half our population will die within 24 hours from tidal waves and heat pulses. The other half won't be so lucky. In the end, it will be men eating the flesh of other men. (beat) It's not the end of the world, General, the world - Earth - will still be here. But there will be no life - maybe cockroaches and some resilient strands of bacteria. Temple : Well, that's really positive, Dan. The President just got off the phone with the Russians. They're just about to launch a new Mars Probe on the biggest rocket in the world. Golden and the N.A.S.A. BRASS exchange sceptical looks.

Golden : (V.O) With the worst guidance system in the world. Their Mars Probe in '96 was found by a pygmy tribe in Africa. Temple : They're going to pull off the probe and replace it with four Atlas Class IV nuclear warheads. Enough punch in their opinion - not to break it up - but to slow it down enough to miss Earth's orbit. Golden : (V.O) Their launch date is set for next month. Temple : They're going to move it up. Golden : (V.O) To when?

Temple : Sixteen hours from now.

All the N.A.S.A. Technicians CLAMOR at once.

Golden : (V.O) What are they gonna do, glue, spit, and scotch tape it together? Even if they get a nuke out to the asteroid, a surface nuclear detonation is not going to work. The only way is to split the thing in half and hope the two pieces slide past us. Temple : Thank you for bringing up the impossible, Dan. Colinswood : People, the President's joining us, Mr. President? President : (V.O) Well, this has been a tough day. The media's all over this. They're going to get nothing. Telling the public we might all be dead in eighteen days achieves nothing but panic. Golden : (V.O) Mr President, finding this speck in the sky is a very hard thing to do unless you have the exact co-ordinates. There are only twelve telescopes powerful enough to see it right now. You've got a full moon goin' for four days - makes it all but impossible to see.. Once these things draw closer to Earth, you'll never keep a lid on this. No way.

INT. N.A.S.A. BRIEFING ROOM - NIGHT

The video screen blinks off. Golden looks at his Techs.

Golden : How many of you are as scared as I am?

Golden raises his hand. All the other N.A.S.A. Techs, one by one, raise their hands.

Golden : One giant leap for Mankind. Everyone remember that? This is what we are going to do. We're going to fly to that asteroid with a nuclear device, implant it and get off before it blows. Quincy?

All eyes turn to N.A.S.A. Chief of R&D, RONALD QUINCY. Quincy has coke bottle glasses and a 198 I.Q.

Quincy : Look: set a fire cracker off in your open palm, you get a third degree burn. Close your fist, It'll do some serious damage. If we can get a nuke deep in one of the asteroid's fault lines, she'll split in two, like a diamond. Golden : You're all looking art us like we're crazy. We're not. Skip : Dan, our currant shuttle fleet is too old and too slow. Golden : What I'm going to tell you is a breach of national security and could land me in jail, but in eighteen days there arnt' gonna be any jails, so....We're not gonna use a current shuttle. Gentlemen, I'm talking about the X-71. Skip : It's done? Quincy : Has been for three months.

EXT. ARIZONA DESERT - FLIGHT TESTING FACILITY - DAY

N.A.S.A.'s flight testing facility. A flat, hard, dry area dominated by an ENORMOUS HANGER. The HANGER DOOR is open; breeze blows back a BLACK SILK TARPAULIN, revealing the X-71's NOSE. Technicians come and go.

INT. N.A.S.A - BRIEFING ROOM - DAY

Golden : Time is our enemy. This is like the race to the Moon, guys - what this Agency was founded on. Skip : Boss, we're good at space travel, but you're talkin' about drilling a hole. Golden : Quincy's been working on excavating the ice from the Moon - he's gonna reorient his thinking. Right, Quince? Quincy : Right. And the first thing I'm gonna do is talk to the guy I ripped off. His name is Harry S. Stamper. He's the best oil driller in the world. Golden : I don't care who he is, what he's doing.

EXT. NORWAY COAST - NORTH SEA - "TROLL" OIL RIG - DAY

SUPER : DAY TWO

Close on a GOLF BALL. THWACK! The golf ball EXPLODES off the tee from an oil rig. The "TROLL" is the largest man-made structure in the world - 12 aircraft carriers big and 1200 feet tall. A self-contained city.

HARRY STAMPER, world's foremost expert on offshore deep drilling, immaculately attired in golf attire and spikes, stands on a patch of Astroturf with a five iron in his hand. Piped-in MOZART drown out the rig noise.

EXT. "TROLL" - DRILLING PLATFORM - "A" DERRICK - DAY

The main drilling platform. On "A" derrick, Chief Driller, A.J. FROST, 30, handsome, is at the controls. Roughnecks "JUMBO" CARTWRIGHT, "BEAR" BROWN, "CHICK" CHAPPLE, TITO GUEVARA, and MAX LOGAN, handle 20 foot sections of PIPE DRILLING SRTRING with a HYDRAULIC TONG AND CLAMP.

Roughneck BENNIE MORGAN, late 20's an ox of a man, comes across the platform, pulling an oily green coveralls and donning his hard-hat. Bennie examines the rig's DOWNHOLE PRESSURE GAUGE.

Bennie : Chick! take a look at this! Chick : Pressure's been up all morning. She kicked twice on me.

A.J.'s eyes move to a TALL BLOND MAN on his lunch break across the rig.

A.J. : What did our always-at-lunch-Swedish geologist say? Bennie : Jah, jah, jah. No bleeper. Too much pressure. Chick : You askin' the old man?

A.J. nods and walks off.

EXT. "TROLL" RIG - TOP TIER

Harry HITS another ball. WE REVEAL his target, a GREENPEACE BOAT anchored off the rig. The BALL strikes the side of the boat, just missing the head of ONE of the PROTESTERS.

Harry : Almost caught that little bastard.

He admires his shot as his daughter, GRACE, walks up. Grace is late 20's, business dress, Harvard Law.

Grace : Having fun?

Harry HITS another ball. It misses the boat, skips across the water.

Grace : Sure sliced the shit outta that one. (frowns) Harry : Watch your language, Gracie. Grace : Seagulls swallow those and they die. Harry : Stupid birds.

Harry's EYES move to a GROUP OF GREENPEACE PROTESTERS across the rig, being held back by Stamper Oil SECURITY GUARDS.

Grace : I just talked with A.J. Harry : Talking to him quite a bit these days.... Grace : (awkward pause) "A" rig's acting up. The drill string kicked twice this morning, gave Chick a nasty bruise in the head. Harry : Good. He's not vulnerable there. Grace : Chase Manhatten okayed the bridge financing for the Micronesia Project, but at 21 percent interest. And Lloyd's of London refuses to underwrite the Venezuela> Project.... Harry : Thieves and cowards, all of 'em. Twist their arms. Grace : I am. Harry : Keep twisting. Like a pit bull. Grace : Oh, and that magazine article - they want some human interest stuff - likes and dislikes. "Likes" I said Golf, Fly Fishing, Single Malt Scotch, Old Movies. What about "Dislikes?" Harry : Any kind of flying and oil company executives. Go deal with 'em. I always look better when you're doing the talking.

Harry HITS another ball. CLANG.

Grace : You know you donate 300 grand a year to Greenpeace.

Harry smiles at the contradiction.

Harry : What'd your mother call me? Grace : Complicated. Harry : Yeah well....I'm complicated.

Grace walks off, passing A.J., winking at him. A.J. winks back.

A.J. : What's his mood? Grace : Complicated.

A.J. walks up to Harry.

Harry : I understand we're having problems with "A" rig. A.J. : I'm on top of it (Harry picks up his bag) Harry, you have a second? Harry : Yeah. One. A.J. : I'll hurry. I've worked for you for a long time. Harry : Twelve years. A.J. : And you've been real good to me.... Harry : Another company make you an offer, kid? A.J. : No. The reason I am here, today, standing here, talking to you. I'm obviously talking to you...but it's, you know, not, uhh...it's not an oil-related matter exactly.... Harry : You're sweating, A.J. A.J. : You know there comes a time in a man's life when...(to himself) No, that's a cliche...(to Harry) Can I start again? I, uhh, fell...I've fallen... Harry : You hurt yourself? A.J. : In love, I mean. Fallen in love. It's the damnedest thing, but this person you...know...really well.

ACROSS THE PLATFORM - Grace escorts five angry OIL INDUSTRY EXECUTIVES over to Harry. A KLAXON SOUNDS. Harry, alarmed, rushes right past them, toward the "A" Derrick. They follow, snapping at his heels:

Oil Executive 1 : You explicitly promised results at 25 thousand feet. Harry : We have results. Oil Executive 2 : But we don't have oil. We've given you everything you've asked.... Harry : Horseshit. What the...? Chick! Bennie! Somebody better tell me why the hell "A" derrick is not turning!

Chick hurries up to Harry.

Chick : The uhh....the Greenpeace guys.

Harry approaches "A" Derrick. Five MEMBERS of Greenpeace have handcuffed themselves in a circle around the drilling pipe.

Harry : Hey there, what can I do for you? Greenpeace Leader : This is an official protest. Harry : 'Course it is. I love you guys. You like dolphins and whales, I like 'em too. Hey, I know you. You too. Didn't you have shorter hair? Greenpeace Leader : Stamper, do you know what this thing does to the eco-system? Harry : How'd you get out here? Canoe? Rowboat? Oh, that boat down there with a thousand horsepower diesel! Greenpeace Leader : How can you wake up every day and look at yourself in the mirror? Harry : The same way you did when you blow-dried your hair this morning. And you used a curling iron, I betcha. Did you know most electricity's from burning oil? I'' stop drillin' when the world - stops usin' it. Bennie, start 'er up! Greenpeace Leader : Wait........ Harry : Can't wait! I'm a businessman! Those goons over there gave me 57 mil. to find oil and they ain't leavin' till I do! 'cause they have no lives!

The drill string begins to turn in the hole.

Greenpeace Leader : We....we threw away the key. Harry : Sorry. Time is money. BENNIE!

The MASSIVE HYDRAULIC KELLY begins to descend on the Greenpeace Activists' heads.

Greenpeace Leader : STOP!!!! Harry : Bennie! Third gear!

The Greenpeace Leader miraculously produces a key and frantically begins unlocking the handcuffs.

Grace turns to the oil executives.

Grace : He's good at public relations.

A.J. approaches Grace; they watch Harry.

Grace : So? (A.J. stares at her) What? (no response) What? (no response) A.J.?

Suddenly, across "A" Derrick, a KLAXON SOUNDS.

Chick : She's kickin'!

The civilians get the hell away.

Harry and A.J. run toward the rig.

Chick : Pressure's north of seven thousand! A.J. : We gotta clear the Derrick! Harry : (looks at wellhead) Chick, rig up another pipe. (Chick and Bennie look at Harry with uncertainty) NOW, NOT TOMORROW.

CHick and Bennie begin clamping, and tong a PIPE STRAND onto the DRILL STRING like an INDY PIT STOP CREW.

A.J. : Harry, we've hit pressure. We gotta bleed it off. e go any deeper, we'll blow the rig. Harry : Thanks for that opinion. Chick, full speed! A.J. : The bit's five thousand feet down! Full speed'll rip the pipe apart! Harry : You learn all this in college? I been doing this thirty years, kid. Get on the controls.

A.J. moves reluctantly to the DRILLING CONTROLS. Chick nods to A.J., who engages the gears. The PIPE STRING turns at FULL SPEED. The new drill pipe descends ten feet into the hole, then....

The torque rips the NEWLY ATTACHED PIPE from the drilling string. The drill spins freely.

A.J. hits the "stop! lever and stares at Harry.

The roughnecks converge around the wellhead.

A.J. : I'm goin' down. Reattach it. Gimme a wrench and a band coupling.

Chick hand the items to A.J.

A.J. descends into the drilling hole.

INT. DOWN THE DRILLING HOLE - DAY

A.J., holding his breath under water, shimmies down the drilling pipe feet-first, inside the water- filled concrete tube running from the rig to the ocean floor.

A.J. begins wrestling the disconnected sections together. EXT. RIG - "A" DERRICK

The wellhead KICKS. The rig platform shakes and shudders. SEAWATER erupts from the wellhead.

Chick : The drill hole's flooding! Grace : A.J.!!

Harry strips off his jacket and climbs into the wellhead. He takes a huge breath and disappears into the brine-filled drilling hole.

INT. DRILLING HOLE

A.J. is pinned against the hole wall by one of the disconnected pipes. Harry comes down the hole. He plants his back against the hole wall and kicks the pipe, freeing A.J. A slow, deep, RUMBLE emanates from below. The Briny water inside the hole suddenly turns BLACK and VISCOUS.

A.J. and Harry exchange an alarmed look. Harry, then A.J., pull for the surface, up the drilling hole as --

EXT. DRILLING PLATFORM - "A" DERRICK - DAY

-- the wellhead KICKS again. The rig platform SHUDDERS violently. The derrick sways. SEAWATER SPEWS up from the wellhead.

Chick : Get back, she's gonna blow!

Grace, Chick, Bennie and the other Roughnecks huddle around the flooded drilling hole, waiting. Tense, agonising seconds pass.

Harry scrambles out, covered in....CRUDE OIL.

He grabs Grace and pulls her away.

Grace : Where's A.J.!!!? Harry : RIGHT BEHIND ME! RUN!

The platform SHAKES. Harry, Grace, and the others sprint away as --

A GEYSER OF CRUDE OIL erupts from the drilling hole, blowing A.J. out of the hole fifteen feet above the wellhead. A.J. crashes to the platform floor.

CRUDE OIL rains down on Grace and the Roughnecks...they run to A.J.

Grace : Never do that again!

CLOSE ON A.J. - he's looking back at the DRILL HOLE, panting, traumatised, greasy oil raining on his head.

A.J. : You know how I told you there were two obstacles? I didn't do the first,'cause he's tough...but I did the second...! (pulls out case; opens it) I got it at uhm..Tiffany's. I can't give it to you until I talk to him, but try it on.

She reaches for the ring. It slips from A.J.'s hand and falls through the grated floor, pinging off the rig's steel pylons, 100 feet into the sea below.

Grace : Don't worry! Tiffany's insures up to a week from purchase!

A.J. stares despondently over the railing.

Harry, black with crude oil, staggers past A.J.

A.J. : (pointedly) Good plan, Harry. Harry : (walks over to Oil Execs) There's your oil, gentlemen. Now get the hell off my rig.

INT. N.A.S.A. - MISSION CONTROL - DAY

Golden, Clark, Skip, Flip and the rest of the Mission Control Technicians watch a live feed from Russia. A RUSSIAN ENERGIA SUPER BOOSTER ROCKET sits on its launch platform.

Flip : Look it that sucker. They got a nuke up there in sixteen hours? Skip : It'll never fly. Never. Clark : Three things the Russians make well, guys - vodka, gymnasts and rockets. Don't count 'em out. Golden : It's the late 20th century, I run the U.S. Space Program, and I'm praying to God the Russians are better at this than we are....

EXT. RUSSIA SPACE CENTER - SMOLINSKAYA A.F. BASE - DAY

The ground begins to SHAKE uncontrollably. EXHAUST billows out from the Rocket's BOOSTERS. The Russian rocket blasts off and lifts into....

Something's wrong. The Rocket stops accelerating and stands still for a moment. It falls to Earth; BLOWING UP in a thunderous inferno.

INT. N.A.S.A. - MISSION CONTROL - DAY

Golden, Clark, and all the N.A.S.A. Techs stare at the burning rocket.

Golden : So, where's our oil driller?

EXT. RIG - "A" DERRICK

A champagne cork POPS and WIDEN TO Harry, Grace, A.J., and all fifty Roughnecks. The wellhead's been capped; pumping 2500 gallons per minute.

Harry : To Hole Number Seventy-Six! Roughnecks : (UNISON) Hole Number Seventy-Six!

The Oil Executives stand off, watching.

Oil Executive 1 : Seventy-Six? Oil Executive 2 : This is Harry's Seventy-Sixth straight hit. Oil Executive 1 : The man's a legend.

We hear the WHOP, WHOP, WHOP of HELICOPTER BLADES. Harry, Grace and A.J. turn toward the noise.

TWO U.S. ARMY BLACKHAWK HELICOPTERS whirr across the choppy ocean.

EXT. OIL RIG - TOP TIER HELI-PAD - MINUTES LATER

The helicopters land on the heli-pad on the oil rig's top tier, MAJOR STINSON, 50's, wearing formal dress and sunglasses along with two strapping ADJUTANTS stride across the rig.

Major Stinson : Harry Stamper? I'm Major William Stinson, United States Army. I need a few words with you. In private. Harry : Say it now, say it quick, or get off my rig, Major. I've got a business to run here. Major Stinson : You've been summoned back to the States. Harry : Who's doin' the summoning? Major Stinson : Your Government, Mr Stamper.

INT. SOMEPLACE IN KENTUCKY - HOLDING CELL - NIGHT

Jimbo, Theo and Pearl sit in a holding cell some place. Jimbo's banging on the door. Jimbo : Hey, zipperheads! Ever watch "L.A. Law?" Right to remain silent, right to an attorney? My brother's a bad-ass lawyer - he's gonna sue your asses to Mars. I was in pre- law for a month - you can't put somebody in jail for makin' a phone call!!! Pearl : It isn't about that, Jimbo. We saw something we weren't supposed to. Theo : Something they're not telling the public. Jimbo : Yeah, that's why they were so hot for the co-ordinates. Do you think it's an asteroid? Or comet? Theo : I dunno - but I bet it's a whopper.

INT. N.A.S.A. FLIGHT MISSION ROOM - DAY

Harry, AJ. and Grace are led into the room by Stinson. Quincy's eyes move to Harry --

Quincy : He's here.

Quincy, Clark and Golden stand, approach --

Quicy : (cont'd) Dan Golden, meet Mister Harry Stamper, the finest oil driller in the world. Golden : Mister Stamper..(shaking hands) Dan Golden, I'm Director of -- Harry : I know who you are. I watched T.V. once. Apollo 8, right? First manned lunar orbit. Golden : That was a long time ago. I run this place now. And we've got a serious problem on our hands that Quincy here thinks you might be able to help us out with --

Quincy eagerly outstretches his hand. They shake. Quincy doesn't let go.

Quincy : I'm a big fan, Mr. Stamper. Harry : I kinda caught that. (to Golden) What's the problem, gentlemen? Golden : I wonder if we might speak alone? Harry : These two are my right and left arms. Grace Stamper and Albert Jack Frost. Stupid name, so we call him A.J.. (handshakes) They run my company. You talk to me, you talk to them. Golden : Okay.

Golden direct everyone into --

INT. N.A.S.A. - BRIEFING ROOM - DAY

Golden, Temple, Clark, Harry, Grace, and A.J. sit in a dark room viewing a VIDEOTAPE. Quincy stands beside the projector, supplying narration. On the tape we see Harry on a rig platform shaking hands with an ARAB BUSINESSMAN --

Harry : Great, home movies.

Grace and A.J. smile.

Quincy : Nineteen eighty five. The first well drilled over 50 thousand feet. They said it couldn't be done. You did it. Incredible.

ON THE SCREEN - Harry's on another rig, shaking hands with an INDONESIAN BUSINESSMAN. Harry leans over and kisses the bit. The Businessmen shake their heads, awed.

Quincy : (cont'd) Nineteen Ninety-One. Directional drilling through two miles of anthracite. They also said that couldn't be done. You did it. Incredible.

Harry looks at Quincy strangely; this sure is a bizarre form of celebrity.

Quicy : (cont'd) Ninteen Ninety-Three. The first hole over seventy thousand. Once again they said -- Golden : Move it along, Quincy. Quincy : Right, sorry. Mister Stamper, you're the world's foremost expert in deep drilling. You hold specialized patents in high speed bits, drilling fluids, downhole motors Can I call you Harry? Harry : Stick with Stamper. Golden : Well, Mister Stamper, we need you to drill a hole. It's in a difficult place. Harry : I've drilled in them all. Golden : Not...this place. This is really out there. (beat) Space, Mister Stamper. Harry : As in...outer?

SATELLITE PHOTOS OF THE ASTEROID come up on the screen --

Temple : You've watched the news the last 24 hours? You heard about the meteor shower? (Harry nods) What you don't know is that an asteroid is on a collision course with Earth. If it hits us, Earth as we know it will be over. Golden : We're manning a mission to that asteroid to plant a nuclear device in it's core. To do that we need to drill an eight hundred foot hole.

Harry looks at A.J. and Grace.

Harry : A.J., is this guy shitting me? A.J. : I don't think they shit people at N.A.S.A., Harry -- Harry : An eight hundred foot hole. On a moving asteroid. In space. Golden : All we want is your advice in perfecting our drilling arm, any help you can provide. We'll pay your usual consultancy, of course. Harry : Show me your rig.

INT. N.A.S.A. - RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT - DAY

Quincy leads Golden, Harry, A.J., Grace, and Clark through N.A.S.A.'s Research and Development area. This place looks like "Q's" weapons shop from the James Bond movies as funded by every company on the fortune 500 --

Huge, clinically clean, dominated by MASSIVE ROCKET ENGINES. TECHNICIANS in white coats and hairnets work on a variety of equipment.

TECHNICIANS hunch over a ROVER VEHICE, not the golf cart used on the moon. This is low, squat, sturdy, with an enclosed airlocked passenger compartment.

Quincy : The "Armadillo" - our fourth generation rover. It carries a six-cell solar engine with 824 horses. This was a joint venture with the Germans. (winks) It's designed by Porsche.

Quincy motions to TWO TECHNICIANS. They roll over a ROBOTIC ARM on a gurney, powered by an ELECTRIC MOTOR. The robotic arm is connected to an OIL DRILLING BIT.

Harry : Where's the Kelly? Quincy : This baby works without one. Harry : How does it work?

Harry starts to inspect the bit.

Quincy : It works through a series of complexly designed differential gears.

Harry's face tightens, as he studies the bit further --

Harry : This is my Patent. Quincy : "Drilling Power Transfer Without Conventional Hydraulics," by Harry S. Stamper. You registered it with the U.S. Patent Office last year. Harry : You stole it. Quincy : We just borrowed it, Mister Stamper.

Quincy unpockets a remote control panel and presses a button. The drill bit presses down into a block of concrete and begins to rapidly CHEW through it, as Harry marvels at the realisation of his design.

Quincy : (cont'd) We built this arm to mine ice from the moon -- greatest discovery in space in thirty years. Harry : What'd this cost? Golden : Ten million. Quincy : Twenty-our million. Harry : Boy, I'm in the wrong line of work. So, that's where my taxes go. For thievin' incompetent, government employed rip-off artists? A.J. : No torque adjustment, no pressure release valve....a big hunk of junk. Quincy : We're working on that. Harry : What happens if you hit gas? You have three seconds. Drill faster, run like hell, or pray. (beat) Time's up. You're dead., The rig just blew. Golden : Gentlemen, gentlemen, wait a second. The crux of the matter.... Harry : Hang on. I betcha everyone in this room has a PH.D. Golden : Or three.... Harry : I left school after tenth grade. I earned my PH.D every day offshore drilling holes. You can't get it in a book. Drilling holes is about instinct - about smellin' it. Drillin' holes is an art. You want the crux of the matter?(beat) You stole my patent, and you don't have a goddamn idea how to use it. As for this piece o' crap, don't insult me. (walks around the rig) I'll rebuild it - the right way - and drill the hole for you. Grace : Uhm, pop, could we discuss this...? Harry : Just give me a space suit. Golden : You won't need one. You're not going up. Harry : You don't have a choice. I think all you PH.D's know that.

Harry walks off. Grace and A.J. follow.

Golden : (calling after Harry) Harry. Let's figure this out.

INT. N.A.S.A. - CONFERENCE ROOM - DAY

Harry sits opposite Golden and Temple. Grace and A.J. stand behind him.

Harry : First of all, you're going to buy my patent. Temple : Of course, completely in order. What is the price? Harry : Fifty million dollars.

Uncomfortable pause. Temple clears his throat.

Temple : Mr. Stamper, this mission is to preserve the future of.... Harry : You're right, too low. I'm still pissed. Seventy million. Temple : Done.

Harry looks to Grace.

Harry : Give that money to my Greenpeace buddies. (smile) Told you...complicated.

Harry goes to shake, pulls back --

Harry : (cont'd) And I never want to pay taxes again. Temple : I'll call the I.R.S., try to uhm, explain the situation.

They begin to shake. Harry withdraws his hand.

Harry : I have this great log cabin in Montana. It's kind of a nature...getaway...thing. Temple : You want us to buy that, too? Harry : No. I fly fish there. But the fly fishin's sucked ever since they put in that goddamn hydro- electric dam. I want it gone by the time I get back.

Temple reluctantly nods. They stand to shake, Harry pulls away again.

Harry : (cont'd) Now about my crew. Golden : The deal was for you, not others. Harry : I'm only as good as the men I work with. The ones in those home movies of yours. Golden : It's out of the question.

Harry half-smiles to Grace.

Golden : (cont'd) Okay, who? Harry :My chief tool pusher. You game A.J.? A.J. : Wouldn't miss it, Harry. Harry : And my roughnecks, Roustabouts, and Rockhound? Temple : Rock what? Is that a dog? Harry : No. Just a meek, geek geophysicist. Golden : What kind of men are these?

INT. SUPERSTRETCH LIMOUSINE - DAY

Bennie, Chick (30's, a street philosopher), Max (35, hulky), TITO, and ROCKHOUND (small, wiry) are riding in high style. Chick is hanging out of the sun roof with his shirt off. Radio's on full blast. Rockhound's pouring whiskey from the fancy decanters.

Chick : We're living LARGE! Bennie : (talking on a cellular phone) Give me nickels on Miami, Washington, San Diego, and Green Bay. (listens) Quit whining. Last thing I need is to be friends with my bookie. (listens, then angry) (MORE) Bennie : (cont'd) Look, when the entire Mexican Army had Butch and the Sundance Kid trapped in that Hacienda, did they wait to die? Hell no. They went out guns blazing. I live by the code of that movie, man.

Bennie hangs up the phone, he looks across from him at -- Tito Guevara, late 30's, stocky, tattooed, Latino, (reformed 118th Street L.A. o.g. gangbanger who was rescued from the streets ten years back and put to work on a rig by Harry) is reading a book: "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus."

Chick drops down into his seat, continues his heated discussion with Max.

Chick : Charlie Bronson could kick Steve McQueen's ass and have enough left over to duke it out with Burt Reynolds in his "Smokey and the Bandit" period. Max : I'm glad you qualified that shit 'cause you know the Burt Reynolds of "Deliverence" would have kicked Charlie's ass. Chick : Burt was trouble in that flick. Max : What would you say the all-time, slam-bam, take-no-prisoners, kick-ass Charlie Bronson movie is? Chick : All time? Well, let me think. "Dirty Dozen," the first "Death Wish." No, no! That movie where he hunted the buffalo. I don't remember the name but he hunted a buffalo and he said like three words during the whole picture. That's my selection. Max : Fine. The buffalo movie. That's your pick. You relly think that buffalo Charlie could have thrown-down with the Steve McQueen form "Bullitt?" Chick : He'da whooped his ass and then his father's. We'll settle this right now. Rockhound? You heard the debate. You're the Supreme Court. What's the final verdict? Rockhound : Tough call. But for me though, one name -- Poncherello. Eric Estrada. You know, "Chips."

Chick and Max just look at him. A beat. Then --

Max : What did you ask him for? Guy makes his living looking at rocks.

The limo pulls over and stops. The DRIVER gets out and walks to the rear door. Opens it.

EXT. N.A.S.A. - FRONT OF FACILITY - DAY

The Roughnecks get out in front of the JOHNSON SPACE CENTER. They stare up at the familiar N.A.S.A. LOGO imprinted on the building. Chick and Bennie exchange looks --

BEHIND THEM :

A battered Ford pick-up pulls up, driven by 71 year-old "MAMA" MABEL BROWN. Mabel's six foot-five, 375 pound son, BEAR, gets out of the car.

Bear : 'Bye, Mama. Mabel : Reginald, get over here and kiss your Mama goodbye. Bear : In front of the guys? Mabel : Never too old to kiss your Mama.

JUMBO, six-foot five, 375 pounds, bald, pulls up on a HARLEY DAVIDSON motorcycle. He climbs off the bike.

Chick : There ain't no oil in this place. What the hell are we doing here?

INT. JOHNSON SPACE CENTER - MEDICAL WING - DAY

Harry has just briefed his crew on the mission.

Bear : ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND? Chick : Harry, this is some "Star Wars" shit. This ain't for us. Harry : It's a job, like any other. Just a different location. Max : We work rigs. We understand rigs. We don't know dick about being astronauts. Rockhound : (pointing) I might add that to get us up there they're going to have to strap our asses on one of those rockets. That means fire, involuntary shit release, and a slew of other stuff I can't hang with. Jumbo : We don't have "The Right Stuff," know what I'm saying? (looking around) We're Roughnecks. Harry : I'd rather die up there fighting this thing than sit here waiting for it.

Harry's line hangs in the air. Everyone exchanges looks.

Bear : I don't like the idea of waiting around to croak. It's wimpy. Chick : If Harry-the-iron-ass is going, I'm going with him. Bear : Hell, I'm going just so I can say I went. (shrugs) Once we get up there, it's making hole. Tito : I'm in.

INT. JOHNSON SPACE CENTER - EXAMINATION ROOM - DAY

Max, Chick, and Tito sit in HOSPITAL SMOCKS on two examination tables. They have tattoos, long hair. A cigarette dangles from Tito's lips. AIR FORCE NURSES are everywhere. A NURSE clips a SWATCH OF HAIR from each of the men. She comes to Tito. He grabs her arm. Takes the scissors from her.

Tito : Nobody touches my hair but me.

He cuts a SWATCH of hair, gives it to her. A SECOND NURSE is in front of Max and Tito.

Max : You're not taking any more blood. You vampires already have enough to feed your coven for a year. Nurse : (nasally-voiced) We need to know what substances you've recently ingested. Tito : What, uhh, "substances" you talkin' about? Nurse : (matter of fact) Drugs.

Ma and Tito eye each other nervously. Head Nurse, HELGA, stands before Chick with an ENAMA PROBE and a JAR OF VASELINE.

Chick : An Ena-WHAT? Helga : Enema. Chick : And you want to stick it where?

Helga sticks the ENEMA PROBE in a jar of VASELINE.

Chick : (cont'd) No way, lady. I came here to drill. Helga : So did I.

INT. JOHNSON SPACE CENTER - PSYCHOLOGICAL TESTING CENTER - DAY

Chick sits before a hugely endowed but square female N.A.S.A. CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST.

Psychologist : Say the first two words that come to mind, beginning with each letter. Chick : Bodacious and....Bountiful. (she holds up "S") Succulent and Sinful.

She holds up the letter "F" and HOLD ON CHICK'S REACTION.

INT. JOHNSON SPACE CENTER - EXAMINATION ROOM - DAY

Harry sits before the Chief Physician, DR. BANKS. Golden looks out the window. Dr. Banks, dead-serious, flips through the medical and psychiatric test scores.

Dr Banks : Mr. Stamper, your men...are...take Mr. Chappel. I believe they call him Chic. Harry : Charles, but if you call him that, he'll kill you. Dr Banks : (nervous laugh) I assume you're joking. (no response) Your men show aggression, extreme maladjustment to their surroundings, anti-social behaviour -- Harry : With all due respect, Doctor, I don't know too army guys who are social when someone is trying to jam a tube up their butt. Dr Banks : Does your company have a drug testing program? These toxicology reports are a throwback to the sixties. All show huge levels of nicotine and alcohol. Three of the, four show illegal drugs. A couple I had to look up. One of them had "Kematine" -- a very potent sedative. Harry : A lot of people take sedatives. Dr Banks : This one is used on horses. Harry : I don't tell my men how to live their lives. They're with me to do a job and they do it well. Golden : This is getting us nowhere. Can they fly, or not? Dr Banks : (flipping through physical records) Failed. Failed. Really failed. Under the circumstances...(locks eyes with Golden) They're the finest physical specimens I've ever seen.

INT. N.A.S.A. - LONGSHOT

Harry's crew walk together in newly issued N.A.S.A. jumpsuits. Bear and Jumbo have ripped the sleeves and collars off their X-Large suits.

They walk past two N.A.S.A. mathematicians.

Mathematician 1 : (to mathematician 2) We're screwd.

PULL BACK TO REVEAL:

Temple and Golden standing there with their arms crossed, watching the motley crew of Roughnecks. They're joined by U.S.A.F. test pilots COLONEL SHARP, a young Chuck Yeager type, and LT. COLONEL LUCAS TRUMAN, 30's, rigid and muscular.

Sharp : I mean, they kind of look like Armstarong, Lovell, and Glenn. (turns, soberly to Golden) So, my wife and little girls' lives are in their hands, sir? Golden : We need to drill. Do you know how to drill, colonel? (beat) Neither do I. They're going up. Temple : (pointing to his lapel) With my stars came the power to be blunt. These drillers are not trained for this, Dan.

Truman shakes his head. Sharp eyes Golden, waiting for a response.

Golden : General, it's our job to get them ready to go into space. They're there to do the drilling. (beat, then) And Colonel Sharp, we all have families.

A hard look from Sharp to Temple, as Golden walks away.

Temple : (to Golden) If they can't drill this hole, my men are going to take over.

INT. N.A.S.A. - RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT DAY

Quincy is face-to-face with Golden. TECHS work on the drilling arm in the b.g. Harry and the Roughtnecks are across the room.

Harry : That Armadillo car. Get it in here.

In rolls the Armadillo, two TECHNICIANS pushing it. Harry and the guys look at it. Quincy shows it off.

Quincy : Pressurised titanium alloy cab. Airlocked life support. The chassis's by General Motors. Heavy duty suspension and six wheel drive. Harry : How were you going to power your drill arm? Quincy : Turbo-jet engine fuelled by Kerosene and liquid oxygen. Harry : I need to be able to start and stop. I need different speeds, and I need reverse. Quincy : A jet engine can't do that. Harry : It can if it's hooked up to a clutch. A.J., get me a Mack truck transmission. Quincy : That's so simple it's brilliant. Harry : I'm a simple man. But don't underestimate me. A.J. : Chick, Max! Mack truck tranny!

Chick and Max hurry off. A.J. smiles at Harry.

INT. JOHNSON CTR - ASTRONAUT TRAINING - WORKROOM - DAY

Harry, A.J., Bennie, Chick, Max, and Tito sit before Quincy, who demonstrates a series of components on the N.A.S.A. SPACE SUIT.

Quincy : The new generation EMU - Extravehicular Mobility Unit - provides oxygen for seven hours, a pressurised enclosure, and temperate control. The gloves and helmet slide on and lock with a twist, like this. The cap is worn underneath. It contains a mike and headphones for two-way communication. We'll be able to see you from a small video cam mounted inside the helmet. The Undergarment has 300 feet of plastic tubing circulating cooling water. Owen...

OWEN THE TAILOR, five foot nothing & bald, stands in front of the men.

Owen : These are made for men 5'8" to 6'2", between 140 and 200 pounds. All of you fit within those parameters - thank God we won't have to do any re-tailoring....

Owen stops because --

Bear and Jumbo stand in the doorway --

Jumbo : Yo. This where we get our suits? Bear : Sorry, we're late. Doc said we had... What do we got? Jumbo : Cholesterol difficulties. Said we gotta enter "The Zone." Bear : Shit, the only zone I know is the one around my mama's grill. Jumbo : (holding up form) But we're approved.

Owen looks at the human mountains standing before hi, and then at the tiny EMU suit. Alterations will be necessary.

INT. JOHNSON CENTER - ASTRONAUT TRAINING - MORNING

Clark briefs Harry and the mildly attentive Roughnecks. Sharp, Truman, CO-PILOTS MEGAN WATTS (30's, tough as nails) and STAN WESTON stand in the back along with N.A.S.A. Engineers JACK CROSS and RAYMOND SEARS.

Clark : United States astronauts train for eighteen months. You have nine days. Officers Sharp, Truman, Watts and Weston are your military instructors and the only pilots to have flown the spacecraft. (beat) Each is a combat decorated officer and among the finest men and women we have in the service. Pay attention to them. Sharp : We spend six months on emergency training - we're throwing that out. If we fail, everyone dies. Game over. That's a heavy load but it's ours to carry. The purpose of this is to train you in the physical and mental rigors of working in a weightless enviroment so that you will not panic. So you can do your jobs. (beat) You will vomit. Your eyes will be sucked into the back of your heads. You'll be so tired you can't eat but that won't matter 'cause you'll be so sore you can't take a dump. By the way...good morning.

INT. NEUTRAL BUOYANCY TANK - DAY

Splash, Splash. Harry and the Roughnecks descend underwater. They look like Michelin Men in their thick space suits. Navy divers are around them as they are lined up.

Through the underwater speaker, WE HEAR a trainer giving them instructions for their weightless aerobic training. WE HEAR a loud, embarrassing gastric sound from Bear's suit.

Bear : Houton, we have a problem. That is some vicious methane.

Harry gives a "shut the fuck up" look. Time passes as the guys are dying, HUFFING and PUFFING. One by one, they reach exhaustion. A cabled harness hoists each out.

INT. JOHNSON CENTER - CARDIO LAB - DAY

Harry and his team, in T-shirts and running shorts, jog on a series of threadmills, wired to EKG machines, nostrils taped shut, breathing tubes locked in their mouths. EXT. N.A.S.A. T-38 JET HANGER - DAY

A gleaming spit-shine hanger full of fifteen N.A.S.A. T-38 fighter jets. Our drill team walks up looking worn out. They are met at the open hanger door by pilots CHUCK JR., Vietnam vet, leatherneck-take-no-pussy-bullshit-type-of-guy and HAMMER.

Chuck Jr. : On this mission, they tell me you will experience the worst G-Forces in the history of flight. It's like an elephant sitting on your chest. So, I intend to flip you, spin you, splat your bodies till your bones hurt. Now load up and enjoy the flight.

The Roughnecks, wearing flight suits and helmets, board the planes. Harry does not like the look of these things. Bear is trying to figure out how to fit inside.

Bear : Thing's made for a child - like my kid's car seat.

Chuck Jr. and Hammer walk up to a nervous Harry.

Chuck Jr. : What's the problem, Texas tough guy? Harry : I've got a thing about flying. Chuck Jr. : Not good for an astronaut. (looks to Hammer) Hammer, go easy, don't rip his guts out. Hammer : Sure thing, Chuck.

INT. JET FIGHTER.

Harry plastered to the seat, MOANING so scared he can't puke. The plane barrel-rolls and dives straight to the ground. Harry is GRUNTING and sweating trying to stay conscious.

EXT. N.A.S.A. T-38 JET HANGER - DAY

The T-38's are pulling up and letting the drill crew out. They walk back with white sweat, soaked faces and wobbly legs. Harry exits the plane.

Harry : I hate to fly. I hate to fly. I hate it so much.

Harry leans over to puke.

INT. N.A.S.A. T-38 JET HANGER - DAY

The Roughnecks walking to the T-38 Hanger. Sharp stands on the stairway to the 707 and calls everyone to attention.

Sharp : Trainees, AT EASE (in command) We are not done here. We're taking you for a little ride. This bird will climb to 40 thousand feet and drop to 10 thousand feet to give you the feeling of weightlessness for 30 seconds. Welcome to N.A.S.A.'s Vomit Comet.

INT. VOMIT COMET

The plane drops. The Roughnecks lift off inside. Everyone's flying around the cabin. It's a disaster. Guys bump heads. Bear floats like a beached whale. Jumbo rams the roof. Hary hold a barf bag as he floats. An alarm SOUNDS, then the plane levels off, the guys go slamming into the floor.

INT. JOHNSON SPACE CENTER BATHROOM

Tracking past a row of stalls, WE SEE the soles of a pair of shoes peeking out. Then another pair, another, and another over the multiple sounds of guts being tossed into the toilet.

Golden, Clark, and Sharp stand outside the stalls.

Golden : This is like putting the Hell's Angels in space.

INT. N.A.S.A. RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT

Harry and the Roughnecks are welding the Armadillo, working tough and hard.

INT. N.A.S.A. LOCKER ROOM - NIGHT

The Roughnecks are getting dressed.

Max : (to Chick) We're going to go pound some brews where they have a lot of sweaty, naked women. You in? Chick : (shakes head) No. I got to take care of something.

The Roughnecks walk out, leaving Chick behind.

INT N.A.S.A. CAR - NIGHT

Driven by a uniformed N.A.S.A. TECH, Chick pulls up to a house in a residential neighbourhood. He sits there with a beat, unsure of what to do.

EXT. HOUSE - NIGHT

Chick walks up to the house, KNOCKS. DENISE WILLIAMS answers the door.

Chick : Hey, Denise. Denise : What do you want, Chick?

A big six-year old boy, TOMMY, runs up behind his mom.

Tommy : Who is it, Mommy?

Chick looks at Tommy, smiles.

Denise : It's um...just a salesman, honey. Chick : Hi. Tommy : (looking straight up) You look like big foot.

Chick kneels, extends his hand. Tommy smiles and shakes it. Chick doesn't want to let go.

Chick : I got a feeling you're going to be pretty big yourself. Denise : Go inside and play, Tommy. Tommy : Okay, mommy. 'Bye, Big Foot. Chick : 'Bye, Tommy.

Chick watches Tommy run off. He looks to Denise.

Denise : What was I supposed to tell him? We've got a life here now, Chick, with someone we can depend on. Chick : What I did before was wrong. Every day of my life I regret it. I can see you've got a good thing going, Denise, I'm not trying to mess that up. But this thing's come my way and I got the chance to do something really right. Denise : This another one of your scams, Chick? Chick : It's no scam. You might just be proud of me.

Denise opens the door a little wider, SHE SEES the car in the driveway. The N.A.S.A. logo stencilled on the door. The N.A.S.A. Tech waiting.

Denise : What's going on, Chick? Chick : I can't tell you now. But if it comes out good, I'll be back. (beat) Then maybe you'd consider telling Tommy I'm not a...salesman. It's good to see you. You look really beautiful.

Chick turns and walks away.

Denise : Hey, Chick. (Chick turns) You be careful.

INT. LUCKY LAURIE'S - NIGHT

A seedy Houston drinking hole. All the Roughnecks sit at the bar. The bar is littered with EMPTY MUGS AND SHOTGLASSES. A WOMAN looks at Bennie.

Woman : What are you boys doin' down here in good 'ol Houston? Bennie : (burps) We're in astronaut training.

This gets the reaction you'd expect.

INT. JOHNSON CENTER - RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT - LATE NIGHT

Harry and Quincy go over a list of stuff to order and logistical problems. N.A.S.A. Tech rushes into the room.

N.A.S.A. Tech : Space Command spotted more incoming.

Quincy : (springing up) Where' it headed? How big? N.A.S.A. Tech : Don't know.

They start to run out of the room. Harry follows.

INT. ROCKET ENGINE DEVELOPMENT ROOM

The camera follows up a long ladder to a huge rocket bell housing where A.J. and Grace are kissing passionately. They notice Harry and Quincy, and the other Techs heading for Mission Control. Harry locks eyes with A.J. He doesn't like it. A.J. and Grace know something is up. They follow Harry and the others into Mission Control.

INT. MISSION CONTROL - LATE NIGHT

The room is lit up. Men are scrambling. Phones and satellite charts pop up. Tracking devices PING. Golden on top of the chaos. A TRACKING TECH plots on a map. Clark stands over a N.A.S.A. TECH reading a computer screen.

Golden : Projected impact tracking. I need stats! Tracking Tech : Eastern Asian Hemisphere... someplace...ETA 17 minutes. N.A.S.A. Tech : We have confirmation. The incoming is about the size of the Astrodome. Clark : We've got to warn. Golden : Warn who? The whole South Pacific?

Golden, with lack of sleep and stress, falls back into a chair. He closes his eyes, opens them -- finding Harry in the upper Mission Control Deck. They lock eyes for a long moment.

INT. SHANGHAI - ESTABLISHING - NIGHT

The city ablaze in neon. The harbour, floating junksmanned by Chinese merchants. A loud sonic boom CRACKS in the sky. There's a BRIGHT FLASH in the sky. Night becomes day for two seconds.

The world slows down, motion creeps. The bright FLASH catches the face of a little BOY reaching out for his father's hand. The asteroid SHRIEKS down, hitting the harbour's surface in a red hot FLASH-BOILED at 100 thousand degrees.

INT. MISSION CONTROL - NIGHT

The room is silent. Reports are starting to come in about the devastation. Golden walks up to Harry who is standing with Grace and A.J. He pulls Harry aside.

Golden : Stamper, answer me one question - have you ever let anyone down?

We go close on Harry's face. Searing flashbulbs popping, WIDEN TO:

INT. WHITE HOUSE PRESS ROO - NIGHT

WE SEE him from behind as he addresses the massive crowd. The U.S. PRESIDENT stands before a throng of reporters.

PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS

Papers headlines, CNN reporters flash on screens. Images of people watching the news in bars, at home. A NEW YORK POST slams down on the pavement, the headline: SHANGHAI DISASTER, MASSIVE DEATH TOLL RISING.

INT. SOMEPLACE IN KENTUCKY - HOLDING CELL - DAWN

Jimbo is talking to an F.B.I. AGENT who is on the other side of the bars holding a newspaper.

Jimbo : If it's over then why aren't you lettin' us out of this goddamn cell? F.B.I. Agent : Be real soon, son.

The agent flips the newspaper into the holding cell and walks away.

Jimbo : Don't walk away, I want to talk to my lawyer. You hear me? Peral : (refering to the newspaper) This says that the asteroid came from the Southern Hemisphere. Theo : Southern Hemisphere? Pearl : No kidding. It's a big sky - they want people to look the other way.

INT. MANHATTEN - TAXI CAB

Stu the cabbie is riding with a WALL STREET GUY.

Stu : Kennedy lied about the Bay of Pigs, Nixon...Watergate, say no more. Clinton. One word. 'Women.' If I know one thing; ALL PRESIDENTS LIE.

INT. N.A.S.A. - TRAINING ROOM - MORNING

Morning after the devastating disaster in Shanghai. Harry walks into the quiet room. Harry's all business.

Harry : Forty thousand people died last night. But I guess that didn't concern any of you. I hope you all had a good time last night.

The Roughnecks look around. They know there were wrong.

Chick : I gotta tell you...I'm scared. Harry : Well, you should be scared. We all should be. 'Cause if we fail, they say the Earth will die.

Harry sits down, looks out the window at N.A.S.A. Techs working in the room down below.

Harry : You think these N.A.S.A. guys are a bunch of clean-cut pussies, that's it. They can out think you, they can outrun you. This job, gentlemen, is as real as it gets. I need every one of you. (he looks them in the eye) If you're not up to it, then walkout of that door.

Finally. Theo and Pearl, frustrated, go to the TWO-WAY MIRROR, blocking Jimbo from view.

Theo : I'm hungry! When're we gonna eat? Pearl : I have p.m.s.!! I need some ibuprofen!

Jimbo grabs Randy's legal pad and writes:

HELP!! BIG ASTEROID GOING TO HIT EARTH. COORDINATES 712 BY 345.

Randy stares at the message.

Randy : Okay, I'm done here!

The door opens. Two F.B.I. AGENTS lead Randy out. Jimbo looks at Theo and Pearl.

Jimbo : He flunked the bar three times.

INT. N.A.S.A. - RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

-- Harry shows Quincy his DRAWINGS of the DRILLING ARM - the way Harry wants it.

-- Harry, A.J. and Quincy work with the TURBO PROP ENGINE, transforming it into a JET FUEL GENERATOR.

Quincy : We'll run your liquid oxygen from the shuttle through a tube into the intake manifold. No problem. A.J. : I figured out how to bring up the slag. Direct the jet turbine's exhaust down the drill pipe. It'll blow the stuff right up the hole. Harry : Good, A.J. Good.

-- Chick, Bennie, Bear, Jumbo welding new pieces of the DRILLING ARM together. The Roughnecks have changed. Chick and Bennie now have crew-cuts.

-- A.J., Harry, Max and Tito build the drilling arm.

EXT. ARIZONA - SHUTTLE TAKE OFF AREA

TWO X-71 SHUTTLES in the hanger. TECHNICIANS scramble around, preparing the shuttles for the mission.

Harry : (points) From all of your intel, the deepest fault line is here. This is my sweet spot. If I can get a clean hole in there, She'll blow in half.... Golden : ....and the two pieces will slide right past us. You cannot shatter it. Getting hit with 20 smaller asteroids is as bad as one big one. You have to drill, plant the nuke, lift off, and detonate -- all before the asteroid reaches this position. (demonstrates position) You have eight hours. Remember it. You must detonate by this point or, the two halves will hit us.

Harry nods and walks off.

Sharp : Drill an eight-hundred foot hole in eight hours? Is that possible?

Harry doesn't like to be questioned --

Harry : You just worry about getting me on that rock, Colonel. Let me worry about the drilling.

A moment of conflict between them.

EXT. JOHNSON CENTE - ASTRONAUT TRAINING - DAY

ONE OF THE ARMADILLOS, complete with drilling arm, sits at the bottom of the tank. Harry and six Roughnecks are already at the bottom, in pressure suits and helmets.

Golden, Quincy, Clark, Sharp, Truman, and all of the N.A.S.A. BRASS, observe.

A.J. is the last to enter the tank.

INT. N.A.S.A. NEUTRAL BUOYANCY TANK - UNDERWATER

A.J. descend to the tank's bottom. Harry, Chick, Bennie, Max and Tito are in bulky white pressure suits. Jimbo and Bear wear the largest pressure suits ever made. They talk through their helmet radio links.

One drilling arm starts turning. The Roughnecks turn toward a STACK OF 20 FOOT LONG STAINLESS STEEL DRILLING PIPES on the tank's bottom. ABOVE WATER - SIDE OF TRAINING TANK

Golden hits a stopwatch.

Golden : (into intercom) Go.

INT. N.A.S.A. NEUTRAL BUOYANCY TANK - UNDERWATER

Bear and Jimbo grab a pipe string and handle onto the mock-up drill arm. They clamp it on. Bennie and Chick screw a drill bit onto the pipe string. They are good, very good. The work with the manic intensity of a pit crew at Indy.

Harry : Done!

ABOVE WATER - SIDE OF TANK

Golden hits his stopwatch. Smiles. The N.A.S.A. Brass is impressed.

Golden : These guys are fast. Harry, interior gauge check.

INT. N.A.S.A. NEUTRAL BUOYANCY TANK - UNDERWATER

Harry : We're on A.J. A.J. : Let's see what this baby can do.

Harry and A.J. move the Armadillo's AIRLOCK DOOR. It has an exterior open/close button. Harry punches it. The side door opens. Harry enters, then A.J.

INT. ARMADILLO - UNDERWATER

Harry and A.J., still underwater, climb inside. Harry presses the PRESSURIZATION button. Simulating pressurisation in space, the water in the cab is blown out, and air WHOOSHES IN.

Harry and A.J. sit dripping in the watertight cab. Through the front window WE SEE the other Roughnecks in the tank. Harry unlocks his neck seals. Pulls off his helmet.

Harry : Lose the helmet, A.J.

A.J. snaps out of it. His hands go instinctively to the helmet and in one motion...CLICK. It's off.

Harry : (clicks radio) We're in. Run the simulation.

The interior PRESSURE GUGE NEEDLES and MONITORS (engine torque, drill direction, etc.) start bobbing. The drill starts to cut into a BLOCK OF CONCRETE.

Golden : (V.O) How's she look? Harry : Torque adjuster's good. Fuel level good. A.J., downhole pressure? A.J. : We can do better. I'm increasing the RPM's to seven thousand. We can get more torque. Golden : (V.O) Negative, A.J. Don't exceed ix thousand. Not on this run. A.J. : Relax. I built this thing. She's got more in her. Increasing the RPM's. Golden : (V.O) Negative, A.J. A.J. increases the RPM's. The gauge starts to rise. The N.A.S.A. Brass shifts uneasily in their seats. They're not accoutomed to seeing their astronauts disobey orders. Golden : (V.0) (cont'd) A.J., shut the Armadillo down now. A.J. : We can push it, further. Let's see what she can do.

Suddenly, the RPM''s shoot into the red. A red siren spins in the control room. The Armadillo SHAKES violently. The DRILLING BIT grinds to nothing. The Armadillo BLOWS a tranny.

Harry's eyes close. He's pissed.

IN THE CONTROL ROOM

The N.A.S.A. Brass looks to Golden. One of them shakes their head. Sharp and Golden exchange a look. Sharp shakes his head. INSIDE THE TANK

A.J. presses a button and the cabin, simulating "depressurisation" in space, begins to fill with water.

INT. NEUTRL BUOYANCY TANK - SIDE OF TANK - DAY

Everyone around him just watches, as A.J. climbs out of the tank. After a minute, A.J. looks up, sees all the eyes in the room on him.

EXT. CREW QUARTERS - NIGHT

Harry is outside, smoking a Coheba. Harry runs his hand over a SMALL METAL MEDAL that hangs from his neck. Golden approaches.

Golden : A.J.'s off the team. We need a list of names from you to fill the slot. Harry : A.J. would be the first name on my list. Golden : We don't want independent thinkers. And we don't need heroes. We need a team. Harry : You have to have confidence in the men you send up. I understand that. But I'm the one that has to land on that rock. Not you. (firm) I pick my own team. Golden : One shot. Pull him in line or send him home.

INT . HUB OF ROCKET SIMULATOR - NIGHT

A.J. and Grace are there talking. Grace is on A.J.'s lap.

A.J. : I pushed it, I screwed up. Grace : These astronauts train for years for what you're training for in a few days. A.J. : I don't know why I didn't just listen to them. Grace : So, tomorrow you listen.

A.J. and Grace share a look.

A.J. : I love you, Grace.

A N.A.S.A. Tech approaches.

N.A.S.A. Technician : Harry wants to see you.

INT. DESIGN AND PROTOTYPE ROOM - NIGHT

Harry and A.J. stand in the centre of a high-tech supply room. SPARE PARTS from shuttles, PROTOTYPES and WORK TOOLS are everywhere.

Harry : You tell me what the hell you think you're doing? A.J. : I'm trying to work with the team. Harry. : Bullshit. You're trying to lead this team. You're trying to be me. You're not me. A.J. : What do you want? You want me to quit? Harry : If you can't bury this cowboy shit, yeah, I want you to quit. A.J. : I don't have to prove anything to anybody, Harry. Harry : I listen to N.A.S.A., you listen to me. That's the chain. Either you follow it, or you're done. A.J. : I'll follow it. Harry : I stood up for you, because I've made a life of proving people wrong.

Harry's hand slides down to the medal hanging from his neck.

Harry : (cont'd) When I was about your age, I was in Galveston, Texas. I scraped together some money, bought some old equipment, a little land. I set up a rig and drilled my first hole. Then I sat there and watched her soak up the sun for six months - waiting for this baby to pop. Everybody told me to quit. I wouldn't listen. My wife ran off with a drill-rigger, left me with Grace. Everybody in town thought I was a fool. But I stayed with it. And in the last hour of the last day, she popped. She spit out that black gold and I danced in it like a wild Indian. (reflective ) I captured the magic (holding medal) This is the last piece of pipe that struck gold that day.

Harry takes off the medal. Sets it on the table. He grabs a cutting vice and cuts the medal in two perfect halves. He hands one half to A.J.

Harry : (cont'd) Here, take it up there.

QUICK MONTAGE

Inside the neutral buoyancy tank -- Harry's crew goes through all DRILLS one final time (final mission checks) in quick succession. Everything runs perfectly. The Armadillo is rebuilt and shown functioning without error. A.J. works as part of the team.

INT. JOHNSON SPACE CENTER - DAY

The hour of the mission. The two teams sit in the orange N.A.S.A. flight pressure suits. Golden enters and stands before the room.

Golden : In the book of Revalations, the Bible speaks of a final day on Earth, when all mankind shall perish, shall cease to exist. This day is known as Armageddon. (firm) Right now, that day conflicts with six billion schedules. (beat) For the first time in the history of this planet, s species possesses the technology to prevent it's own extinction. (beat) I've been with N.A.S.A. my entire adult life. Eleven years as an astronaut, another fifteen on the ground at Mission Control. Twenty-six years I've had to answer one question -- why? Why more money? Why the race for space? Why do we need to know what is up there? (beat) When we come through this, I'll take comfort in the fact that I won't ever have to answer those questions again. You are our warriors up there. You are our last hope. God be with you.

The crew stands......

EXT. JOHNSON SPACE CENTER - RUNWAY - DAY

Two sleek BLACK LEAR JETS are parked on the runway. Harry studies them. Grace approaches.

Harry : You know I was thinking, Gracie. Over the years, I should have patted you on the back more.... Grace : Dad, you don't need -- Harry : No father has ever been prouder of his child, Gracie. I want you to know that.

Grace's reaction makes it clear that Harry has never said anything like this before.

Grace : I love you, Dad. Harry : I love you too, Gracie. Grace : (as they hug) Keep an eye on A.J. for me.

Harry climbs up the metal stairs --

A.J. and the rest of Harry's crew comes out of the building. A.J. moves to Grace as she watches her father disappear into the jet.

A.J. : Excuse me. (Grace turns) You're really insanely gorgeous and I was jost sort of wondering if you -- Grace : I'm engaged. But my father hasn't given him his blessing so you might still have a chance. (smiles, then serious) Promise me you won't do anything stupid up there.

A.J. nods. They kiss passionately. Harry's crew sees this and applauds. Grace blushes, embarrassed.

A.J. : I love you, Grace. Grace : I love you. Come back, Okay?

Harry's crew boards LEAR JET 2. A.J. starts toward LEAR JET 1. Grace watches him walk away, eyeing his suit.

Grace : A.J.-- A.J. : (turning) Yeah? Grace : When you get back, ask them if you can kep the suit (winks) It's kind of sexy.

EXT. ARIZONA DESERT - BY SHUTTLE FREEDOM

The cone-shaped noses of the two X-71's are towering silhouettes against the sun. Massive CRAWLERS move the shuttles to the launch tower.

EXT. SHUTTLES FREEDOM & INDEPENDENCE LAUNCH - DAY

Seen from a distance as silhouettes behind a sun-soaked sky, sixteen figures walk toward us. As they grow closer, WE SEE the intense game faces of Harry, A.J., Bennie, Chick, Jumbo, Tito, Rockhound, Max and others approaching the launch site. They look like N.A.S.A.'s version of the "Dirty Dozen."

Harry carries a LARGE MYSTERIOUS METAL CASE, that we've not seen before now.

INT. LAUNCH TOWER ELEVATOR - LATER

Harry exits the elevator and start to walk to the CATWAL to the Freedom shuttle. Harry carries his suitcase.

N.A.S.A. Tech 1 : Sir, was that case authorised for transport? N.A.S.A. Tech 2 : Our weight to fuel ratio's calibrated to the kilogram, sir. How much does that weigh? Harry : Sixty pounds. N.A.S.A. Tech 1 : That can't go up with you, sir. Harry : Wait here.

INT. SHUTTLE FREEDOM - AFTERNOON

Harry enters the cabin. N.A.S.A.'s crack seven-member "Strap-in-Team" goes to work. Harry's crew are outfitted with their HELMETS and CHUTE PACKS. Each step is methodical, each piece of equipment is checked and rechecked.

Harry : Hey you. Yeah you. Come here.

A YOUNG N.A.S.A. TECH approaches. Harry gestures at a row of METAL COMPONENTS housed in the wall.

Harry : What's all this crap? N.A.S.A. Technician : (pointing to various) Multi-track C.D. player. Anti-gravity hand washer, utensil washer, and micro-wave oven. (proud) We worked hard to make the X-71 feel more like home.

Harry just looks at the kid.

EXT. ARIZONA DESERT - BY SHUTTLE FREEDOM - DAY

Metal components one after the other come out of the shuttle hatchway and SLAM into a heap on the lake bed. Harry then appears in the hatchway.

Harry : We don't need music and we don't mind dirty utensils.

Harry picks up his LARGE METAL CASE and ducks back inside the Freedom. The N.A.S.A Techs stare at the ruined components at their feet.

INT. MISSION CONTROL - DUSK

Golden and Clark prepare for the launch.

N.A.S.A. Tech : (into intercom) T-minus six minutes and counting.

INT. SHUTTLE FREEDOM - COCKPIT - DUSK

Sharp and Watts settle in. MAJORS PITTS and FISK, two stern Army demolition experts, finish tying down their equipment.

Mission Control : (V.O) Roger, Independence and Freedom, auto ground launch sequencer commencing.

Sharp looks at Pitts and Fisk

Sharp : You two ready? Pitts : (enthusiastically) AIRBORNE!

INT. N.A.S.A. - MISSION CONTROL - DUSK

Golden, Clark and the N.A.S.A. Techs study the CENTRAL BOARD as final preparations for take-off commence.

Technician : Shuttles Freedom and Independence you are cleared for lift off.

EXT. ARIZONA DESERT - SHUTTLE TAKE OFF ZONE - DUSK

The ground TREMBLES like an earthquake. EXHAUST BILLOWS out of the ROCKET BOOSTERS, filling frame. Shuttles Freedom and Independence ROCKET OFF from dual launch pads, STREAKING BETWEEN CAMERA, climbing to the heavens.

INT. SHUTTLE FREEDOM - COCKPIT - DUSK

Sharp and Watts flip switches, check gauges.

Sharp : Instituting roll manoeuvre. We have S.R.B. Sep, over.

INT N.A.S.A. - MISSION CONTROL - DUSK

Technician : You are a 'go' for ET separation.

EXT. UPPER ATMOSPHERE - DUSK

Freedom and Independence scream away from Earth, dropping their booster canisters.

EXT. SHUTTLE FREEDOM - DUSK

Harry, Chick and the others experience their first G-Forces.

INT. N.A.S.A. - MISSION CONTROL - DUSK

Clark : Lookin' real good, Freedom. Golden : When you meet the Russian, you might want to go easy on the guy. He just broke the record for the longest solo - thirteen months, seven days.

INT. SHUTTLE FREEDOM

Chick : (to Harry) Thirteen months, seven days. (beat) What the hell has he been doing all by himself?

INT. RUSSIAN MIR STATION

Life inside, like the cluttered glove-box of an old car. George Michael's "Freedom" plays on a piped-in sound system. COSMONAUT LEV ANDROPOV dances and sings.

Lev : FREEDOM! FREEDOM! GOT TO GIVE WHAT IT TAKES....Hello Yankees! I love you America. (reading from English book) Would you prefer an appetiser or aperitif?

EXT. RUSSIAN MIR SPACE STATION

PULL OUT of the MIR's window to see Lev dancing with joy. He's celebrating the forthcoming arrival.

PULL FURTHER BACK to catch a wider view of the Russian multi-module Space Station -- a white winged steel seagull.

INT. SHUTTLE FREEDOM

Through the cockpit window, the BLUENESS of Earth's atmosphere becomes the BLACKNESS of space.

INT. MISSION CONTROL

Clark : Freedom, Independence. You're looking good. Prepare to start docking procedures at the MIR.

INT. SHUTTLE FREEDOM

Sharp addresses the crews of both shuttles over the radio --

Sharp : Listen up -- the MIR will be spinning to give us gravity so we can work faster. You might feel queasy or dizzy. We'll dock, transfer the fuel, then detach from the MIR. Fast and safe. This stuff is very volatile.

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