A spot in Siberia is obliterated. Bell Five stops responding. Seemingly unrelated events. However, Space Command is in a tizzy. Five objects are orbiting the Earth in decaying orbits. Objects no one can account for. Calculations are made and the news is grim. 20 miles East of Bermuda, 100 Miles North of Hawaii, Two miles south of Jakarta, Indonesia, Cairo, Egypt, and Vista City, California (of course) are doomed to die unless something can be done.
For once, something is done. Two space shuttles are in the hanger. These are prepared to launch on 24 hours notice. But there are three objects. The GOG43 an experimental craft unflown and unproven is launchable. The previous prototype last flown by one man...Steven Ashby is called from retirement to fly the descendant of the craft that nearly killed him. However he is the pilot that has the best chance of flying this bird, if anyone does.
A message comes in from an unknown source. An Antelope looking thing that calls herself Galan. The objects can be destroyed if hit with an atomic bombs. they are not rocks. An action plan is formed. ICBMs are not designed to detonate in orbit. Too much uncertainly there. The two "rocks" that will fall on open ocean are ignored. Lives will not end if they are not stopped. However the three others have to be stopped. Bombs are placed in the holds of the craft, fueling is started.
Object one lands, a 10 kiloton detonation. In spite of the Navy's best efforts a cruise ship is missing. Beaches in Bermuda are swamped with the tsunami. People are starting to take this seriously, a little late.
Mission one launches with a great deal of apprehension. NASA has always claimed it could do this, but has never tried. Endeavor gets to its "rock". There is confusion and disbelief. It is not a rock, but the news is suppressed. An OBJECT!?! With writing on it!?!? In English!?!?!?! Cairo is saved. The think tanks are over flowing.
Cairo is Arabic optional. Americans can do no wrong. The whole of the city breaks out into spontaneous celebrations.
Object two hits further from land. The Navy promises to sink any vessel that tries the exclusion zone. No lives are lost this time.
Object Three, Deke Slayton leads the mission aboard Atlantis. The bomb has been sabotaged. People are in a total panic. Unless the object can be destroyed Jakarta is doomed. Deke calmly says he will detonate the bomb manually. Dead silence. Deke is out there, no one on the ground can stop him. Deke sets it off by hand. Atlantis is damaged by flying bits. It was another made object.
Jakarta explodes into a similar celebration to Cairo, one tempered by the death of a true Hero.
Vista City is being evacuated. The news of the death of Deke Slayton and the stranding of the Atlantis crew is lost in the noise. The rest of the world falls into deep mourning.
Mission parameters are changed once again. The controllers of all that is careful and rehearsed are quietly taken away in nice jackets. The GOG43 must now rescue the stranded astronauts as well as destroy the rock. In space refueling must be done, the gear is made on the spot. Security is tighter than a convent.
Sonja Traveler is on anti looter patrol when a rat runs under her car. She manages to stop in time. She scoops the rat up and takes it to the station. It is Mickey the Rat, he starts his life as the SIS mascot "ratting" the phones.
Launch. It is another object, larger than the others. A complete engine assembly? It looks something like that. The bomb works as advertised, now to the second stage. Atlantis is parked near the space station. They refuel the GOG and load everyone up.
The mission is pulled off the impossible done and no further lives will be lost. Somehow pictures of the objects gets leaked onto the net. "Commander Taggart was here?" read the captions. Story Musgrave talks about a "Team Omega", the opposite of Team Alpha that seeks to make such news public domain.