I was listening to the radio recently and happened upon part of what appeared to be a radio novella or short story. It involved attempts to rescue an astronaut named McMillan, who was trapped in orbit.

Details I remember are:

  • The astronaut had been trapped for at least 20 days
  • The astronaut held the rank of Lieutenant, and some of the story was from the perspective of a General
  • While the people on Earth could listen to the astronaut over his comms, the only way he knew they were coming was when they turned all the lights in Kansas City on and off in 2-second intervals to signal him
  • At some point in the rescue attempt, the previously assumed 6-hour window between the rescue and the astronaut running out of oxygen is revealed to be only a few minutes
  • At least part of the rescue ship is nuclear-powered

I'm going to propose an adaption of "The Cave of Night" by James Gunn. It was adapted as part of the radio series, "X Minus One". There may be other adaptions.

The stranded astronaut is Reverdy L. "Rev" McMillen, III, 1st Lt. (USAF), as detailed in Wikipedia's List of fictional astronauts.

The rescue ship is captained by Frank Pickrell.

The X Minus One adaption is available on archive.org.

  • Yep, this is definitely it! – Timpanus Nov 6 '16 at 0:37

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