It's 2005, and the world has changed. International terrorists have released a genetically modified disease, called X-Pox, on the world. There is no greater challenge to medicine than finding a cure. Biochem billionaire Tad Mikleszewski (called TM by nearly everyone) is a "space junkie" who has been the primary investor backing the Spacelifter project, a private attempt to build a single-stage to orbit vehicle. But Spacelifter's crucial test firing has failed, and TM is going to pull the plug. He has a better idea for getting himself into space....he'll buy research time on the International Space Station, to work on a cure for X-Pox. The Russians will sell him a seat on the Soyuz taxi vehicle for a mere $30 million.But the equipment in the Harmony Laboratory module was salvaged from old Russian military labs, and perhaps TM's skills are a little bit out of date. A tiny leak - a small hole in the seal of the isolation box where TM is manipulating the X-Pox pathogen, and Harmony is contaminated by the disease that kills within three weeks. Now it's a race against time, to rescue the crew and decontaminate the Space Station. NASA has a shuttle a month from launch, and if Astronaut Kelly Gessner can be retrained in decontamination procedures they can push that up two weeks. The Russians have a third Soyuz due off the assembly line, but Astronaut Mark Koskinen, NASA's chief of staff at Star City doesn't think they'll make it in time. But whether Russian or American, someone is going to have to get up there, and fast.