During training, a member of the first manned mission to Mars is injured, and NASA chooses a replacement, spaced-out spacecraft designer Fred Z. Randall (Canadian stand-up comic Harland Williams), to team with cocky crew captain William Wild Bill Overbeck (William Sadler), efficient mission specialist Julie Ford (Jessica Lundy), and trained chimp Ulysses (Raven). Mission controller Bud Nesbitt (Beau Bridges) backs Fred, but flight-director Paul Wick (Jeffrey DeMunn) has doubts.
En route to Mars, Fred's frenetic antics become a threat, but he wins respect with his navigational savvy. Filmed at Houston locations, including the Johnson Space Center, under the working title, Space Cadet. Shelley Duvall is seen in an uncredited cameo as Fred's mother.