"A hapless astronaut navigates his way through life utilizing his charm and personality rather than his wits. He’s been in love with space travel since he was a kid, aspiring to be involved with the space program and boldly go where no man has gone before
. Along the way, he learned to use people as a means to his ends, especially women. He is ignorant of the hurt and emotional disasters he’s left in his wake.
When NASA decides to monitor the stress and affects of speed of light travel on humans, they select an astronaut that is ‘expendable,’ and who for all intents and purposes won’t be missed if something goes wrong, which they agree is a distinct possibility. They choose him for the first mission. While he’s excited to be getting his chance, he’s dismayed to find they’ve paired him with ‘X,’ a female chimpanzee pilot with much more flight experience. Two NASA scientists are anxious to get him into space. A third scientist believes it’s incumbent upon NASA to let him know about the dangers he faces, including the possibility of not returning to earth. She eventually tells him, risking her own career in the process. He still chooses to continue on with the mission.
A powerful politician from Texas pressures the launch during inclement weather, a negation of standard procedure. The spacecraft is subsequently struck by lightning while still on the pad, causing irreparable damage to one of the electrical circuits, but the problem goes undetected. The launch continues as planned, yet the malfunction eventually causes the spacecraft to be jettisoned into an unplanned and extended flight. This malfunction forces the astronaut and ‘X.’ to spend three calendar months in space at the speed of light, when they return to an earth that has aged 200 years.
When they first arrive on earth in 2205, our guy is unsure where they’ve landed, although the instruments assure him it is earth. He receives no radio feedback on reentry from mission control. They immediately meet a mild-mannered man who initially doesn’t understand that they are from the past, instead believing the shuttle to be a form of ‘classic’ spacecraft and that the astronaut is an enthusiast. The two are introduced to a society and global condition that is vastly improved compared to the one they recently departed. Pollution, crime, war, famine that existed on earth 200 years before is now obsolete and the power structure has shifted to females. In fact, women dominate the planet and men are subservient. There are no longer relationships between men and women.
The pair are quickly ‘met’ by liaisons of the establishment and taken to a processing center. Their ship and belongings are analyzed. In 2205, the earth is devoid of chimpanzees, who have become extinct as a result of mankind’s negligence and the ‘authorities’ are more interested in ‘X.’ than they are in the astronaut. He meets two scientists who will help him acclimate himself to his new environment. All the while, the man who found the two space travelers becomes more enamored with where they came from.
The astronaut has become a better human being during his three months in space with X, but he has a long way to go. He and X have no way to get back home and they must make the best of it. The Governor of States is due to arrive in three weeks and will be in a better situation to assist him with his situation. Until then, he is free to learn what he can about society—and given a shock collar. The female scientist is assigned as his escort. In fact, she is a spy instructed to report to the other scientist. During the following weeks, the astronaut bonds with the other men as he teaches them to play ball and he develops his attraction to his watcher. Also, X. begins to fall ill. The other doctor sees this as her chance to clone X-- for the protection of the species and at the expense of X’s life. She kidnaps X.
The astronaut rushes to rescue X. In the attempt, he feels betrayed by his doctor, who rushes off, presumably to report to the mastermind of the plan. During the final confrontation at the hospital, the Governor of States arrives and his doctor is with her.
The Governor stops the procedure and releases X to the astronaut's care. The evil doctor is taken away in disgrace. Adam learns that his supervisor did not betray him. Rather, she’d alerted the Governor to what her collegue was planning and ultimately saved X. In the aftermath, the Governor explains how their world has shifted off balance and acknowledges that aggression cannot be attributed to either sex. She also surprises him when she tells him that they have the technology for time travel, though it is never used. The Governor makes an exception for X . Despite his feelings for the lovely doctor, the astronaut insists on taking X on a one-way trip home.
As preparations are being made to board the spacecraft back to earth, it is clear that the two of them care for one another. The finding man suddenly grabs X and they jump into the spacecraft and close the hatch. X smiles knowingly as she waves goodbye and the astronaut realizes this is the way it should be. He will stay to build a new world with his doctor, X will go home, and the kidnnapper will realize his dream of going back in time and seeing the Yankees. In the end, he realizes his dream, too—boldly going where no man has gone before