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At an Army testing site, General Thayer watches as a satellite rocket is launched. The rocket crashes, but Dr. Charles Cargraves, who has been developing the rocket for the last four years, vows to continue his work. Thayer later visits Jim Barnes, owner of an aircraft company, and tells him he suspects the rocket was sabotaged. He also speculates that the next rocket built will have an engine powered by atomic energy and will travel to the moon. Jim is skeptical, but Thayer convinces him that the combined resources of American industry could put a rocket on the moon within a year. At a formal gathering, Jim tries to interest a consortium of industrial leaders in the project, and he shows them a "Woody Woodpecker" cartoon that explains how space travel could become a scientific reality. Thayer tells the group it is vital to global security that America be the first country to reach the moon, warning that a foreign power could use the moon as a missile base and thus gain control of the earth. The industrialists are persuaded, and work on the new rocket begins. When the spaceship, Luna, is finished, Charles receives word that the government has denied his request to test it at the construction site, citing concerns about radioactive fallout. Growing public opposition to the project leads Jim to suspect they have been targeted by a subversive propaganda campaign, and he decides to launch the rocket without waiting for permission. The preparations for takeoff are almost completed when radio technician Joe Sweeney tells Jim and Charles that Brown, who was to man the spaceship, has been taken to the hospital for an appendectomy. They ask Joe to take Brown's place, and he agrees, convinced that the rocket will not really work. After saying goodbye to his wife Emily, Charles joins Thayer, Jim and Joe in the spaceship, and they blast off. Once they are in orbit, the men don magnetic boots, which allow them to walk around in the weightless atmosphere of the capsule. When the men put on space suits and go outside the ship to repair an antenna, Charles loses contact with the ship and is cast adrift in space, but Jim uses blasts from an oxygen tank to propel himself toward Charles and lead them both to safety. The ship eventually approaches the moon, and after several failed attempts, they touch down. Charles and Jim emerge from the ship and claim the moon in the name of the United States. While the other crew members are conducting scientific tests, Jim communicates by radar with Dr. Hastings at the control tower, and Hastings confirms his fear that their difficulties during landing used up too much of their power, which means they may not be able to escape the moon's gravitational pull. Hastings instructs them to lighten the ship, and the men strip off nearly 3,000 pounds by removing metal fixtures and discarding all non-essential equipment. When Hastings tells them they must eliminate another 110 pounds, Thayer, Charles and Jim each volunteer to stay behind. They are about to draw lots when Joe sneaks out of the ship. He urges the others to leave, but Jim devises a way for them to discard the radio and the last space suit, thus reaching their weight goal. The ship takes off successfully, and the four men joyfully begin their journey back to earth.