MANUAL MILITARY TYPEWRITERhammers out a screen narration:SUPERIMPOSE: OCTOBER, 1958.The successful launch of Sputnik I hasstarted rumors that manned space flightis a year away for the Soviet Union. TheUnited States has assumed the titanicchallenge of "Taking the high ground ofspace."EXT. USAF PROVING GROUND (CALIFORNIA HIGH DESERT) - DAYA SONIC BOOM in the crystal blue desert sky. A modifiedBell Labs X-2 Ultrasonic JET -- basically a rocket withstubby wings that look more like vestigial fins --SCREAMS upwards, an 80 degree climb into space. On itsside is stylishly painted "Daedalus."INT. X- JET - CLOSE ON ALTIMETER - THAT MOMENT108,999 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'spoke our nose into space.The pilot is Major WILLIAM "HAWK" HAWKINS, 26. Inthe seat behind him is MAJOR FRANK CORVIN, 29. Both wearbulky pressure suits and space helmets.FRANKNo. That's enough, Hawk. We'reapproaching heat barrier. Let'slevel off.(into his radio)Recover One, this is Falcon.Beginning descent now.INT. AIR FORCE B- - THAT MOMENTTwelve miles below the X-2. Barrel-chested, buzz-cuttedCaptain "TANK" SULLIVAN is at the controls.TANKRoger, Daedalus. Got you on thescope, Frank.Tank sharpens the radar blip. As he does, we see aplastic hula girl on the instrument panel "dancing"