"Space" is the ninth episode of the first season of The X-Files. It premiered on the Fox network on November 12, 1993. It was written by series creator Chris Carter, and directed by William Graham. The episode is a "Monster-of-the-week" story, independent of the series' mythology arc.
When Mulder and Scully are told of sabotage attempts to NASA Space Shuttles, the agents investigate the reports and find that the space agency may be under alien control.
News footage from 1977 shows the discovery of Mars, as well as what appears to be a face sculpted into the landscape. Lieutenant Colonel Marcus Aurelius Belt, the commander of the mission, is today a supervisor of the shuttle program, plagued by flashbacks of something that took place during the mission, and experiences nightmares of the face.
FBI Special Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully are approached by Michelle Generoo, a communications commander for NASA's mission control center, who believes that someone within the space agency is sabotaging launch attempts.
A recent space shuttle liftoff was aborted seconds before commencement, and Generoo fears the next launch will be similarly compromised. She also has a personal interest, as her fiancé will be aboard the next mission. Mulder and Scully travel to NASA and meet Belt, who is a childhood hero of Mulder's. Belt dismisses the agents' concerns, stating that nothing can possibly go wrong with the mission. He allows the agents to watch the launch from Mission Control. However, contact is lost with the shuttle, once in orbit.
While driving with Mulder and Scully through heavy rain in order to reach Mission Control, Generoo sees a ghostly face come at her through the windshield, causing her to crash. Mulder and Scully tend to Generoo, and the three continue to Mission Control.
In orbit, the shuttle has moved into direct sunlight and mission control are unable to rotate it into a safe position, a situation which will cause the astronauts to burn up in short order if it cannot be rectified. Generoo believes the uplink is being sabotaged by someone within mission control. Belt orders the uplink to be cut, allowing the astronauts to rotate the craft manually, a bold move which pays off. Although the mission is now very risky for the astronauts, Belt orders them to proceed, angering Generoo and the FBI agents. Belt then goes on to lie to the press about the status of the mission, saying that there were no problems. Mulder confronts him about this, and Belt states the shuttle program will likely be cancelled if the mission is not completed successfully.
Belt returns home and has another flashback, screaming as some sort of astral presence leaves his body and flies out a window, heading into the sky. The astronauts aboard the shuttle then report hearing a thump outside the shuttle and begin to experience an oxygen leak. One of them reports seeing some sort of ghostlike entity outside the ship.
Through scouring the files, the agents find records which show that Belt knew about the equipment flaw and possibly the O-ring defect on the Challenger prior to its failure.
In the control room, Belt collapses, saying the astral force lived in him, controlling him. At his urging, they alert the shuttle to change its trajectory and they are able to land it successfully. In hospital, Belt continues to wrestle with the presence possessing him, and eventually leaps from the window to his death, experiencing a lengthy flashback to his last space mission as he falls.
Mulder theorizes that, while Belt was compelled to sabotage the launches by the entity possessing him, he was also the one who sent Generoo the evidence of what was taking place. He lauds Belt's final sacrifice, stating that, in the end, he gave his life for the mission, as befits a true astronaut.
- Tom McBeath as Scientist
- Terry David Mulligan as Mission Controller
- French Tickner as Preacher
- Norma Wick as Reporter
- Alf Humphreys as 2nd Controller
- David Cameron as Young Scientist
- Tyronne L'Hirondelle as Databank Scientist
- Paul DesRoches as Paramedic