The real shuttle was two years from liftoff when James Bond (Roger Moore) jumped the gun — and nearly jumped the shark — by taking his exploits to outer space. In a startling opening sequence, the Villain of the Moment (Michael Lonsdale as Hugo Drax) steals a shuttle as it's being transported across the Atlantic atop a Boeing 747 (for reasons never really explained, the shuttle, "on loan" to Britain from the U.S., has been strapped to the back of an airliner fully loaded with fuel).
It turns out Drax is building his own fleet of shuttles with an eye on — and this will come as a surprise to you — world domination. But thanks to Bond's heretofore untapped astronauting skills, 007 and his beautiful sidekick, Holly Goodhead (Lois Chiles), somehow manage to pilot themselves to the villain's outer space hideout, destroy everything and, in JFK's immortal words, "return safely to earth."
For moviegoers, Moonraker's flat-out buffoonery was forgiven in light of its spectacular sneak preview of the shuttle era.
Next: Space Camp (1986). >>