Specimen: Unknown
Season 1, Episode 22
Air date February 24, 1964
Written by Stephen Lord
Directed by Gerd Oswald
Episode guide
The Children of Spider County
Second Chance


The crew of the Adonis research space station discovers an unusual object attached to the station wall and brings it inside to study it.

Opening narration

"For centuries, Man has looked to the skies and sought to uncover the mystery of the universe. The telescope brought into focus the craters on the Moon and the canals on Mars, but it was limited, and Man's insistent hunger for knowledge and experience would not be satisfied until he broke the massive chains of gravity and set foot himself on a planet other than his own. Project Mercury was his first venture into space — a testament to his technical ingenuity and courage, a green light to a hundred other projects which would take him still further. This is Project Adonis, a laboratory orbiting a thousand miles above the Earth, a tiny, far-flung world connected only by radio and memory, and inhabited by a handful of men dedicated to removing the unknown for future space travelers. At ten minutes after six on January 8th, Lieutenant Rupert Howard stumbled upon something clinging to the wall of the space-lock that appeared alive. He called them "space barnacles" for temporary identification. They were not."


Lt. Howard (Dabney Coleman, in an uncredited role), a member of a team of astronaut-researchers, finds strange mushroom-shaped organisms clinging to the wall of the space lock, calling them "space barnacles". Exposed to light and air inside, one exhibits aggressive growth and develops a beautiful flower. During study of the organism under the microscope following the spewing of large spores, the flower emits a noxious gas that incapacitates Howard, after which he dies. After burying Howard in space, the other astronauts begin a scheduled return to Earth, bringing the new species with them, not knowing that it caused Howard's death. Containers with the specimens inadvertently open during hard maneuvering, and start rapidly multiplying and filling the shuttle with deadly gas, forcing the crew to don space suits. Learning of the potential danger to life, their superiors on Earth order the crew to remain in orbit until a method can be found to eliminate the threat posed by the specimen. As the spacecraft runs out of fuel, the half-dead crew is ordered to land. They crash some distance from the rocket base, and a team of scientists and military personnel race to rescue the astronauts and contain the organisms. The incapacitated astronauts are evacuated, but the organisms begin to sow upon the surrounding countryside. The commanding officer and an astronaut's wife are forced to flee on foot when their vehicle becomes overgrown, but are completely surrounded by the organisms. As all hope for survival begins to fade, a thunderstorm appears and drenches the land. Unexpectedly, the rain causes the flowers to wilt and die, and the earth is saved.

Closing narration

"There are many things up there, evil and hungry, awesome and splendid. And gentle things, too. Merciful rain."



Cinematographer - Conrad Hall

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