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I remember the TV series pilot where Buck Rogers is sleeping deeply, drifting through the voids in an ice-cold space-shuttle. But I can't remember the reason he got into that situation.

What was the reason Buck Rogers was initially "lost in space"?

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It has been a while since I watched it, but from my recollection he was a pilot/test pilot testing a prototype deep space shuttle on a long trip into the solar system when he flew into a meteorite storm damaging his life support which freezes him solid preserving him perfectly.

I also just found this entry on the show here too which seems to give a more detailed plot summery of the show in general if you want to know more.

http://m.imdb.com/title/tt0078579/plotsummary

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The Pilot

In the wink of an eye, his life support systems were frozen by temperatures beyond imagination. Ranger 3 was blown out of its planned trajectory into an orbit a thousand times more vast.

The pilot doesn't explain what nor how; it just treats the event as a fait accompli, and goes on from Buck's capture.

The Series...

A late season 1 episode has flashbacks, however. In the flashback, Buck is insistent on testing some drive element ahead of schedule. When he does, it results in rapid freezing, and also in the stuck-open drive.

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