The CIA developed their suspicion when some person or persons unknown literally hijacked a Moonraker space shuttle right off the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft on which it was riding at the time, killing its RAF crew and destroying said aircraft. The problem: not a trace of the Moonraker remained. The British, realizing their own embarrassment, sent an expert operative of their own: Commander James Bond alias Agent 007.
Holly and Bond
Dr. Holly Goodhead rapidly developed evidence that Hugo Drax had an operation going on that extended far beyond the U.S. space program. And when she developed that evidence, Drax had her taken and brought to his secret launch base in South America. She resigned herself to dying in the line of duty, her only regret then being she would never know why.
Investigating the theft of the Drax Industries Moonraker, Bond proceeds to the Drax Industries shuttle-manufacturing complex where he meets Hugo Drax and his henchman Chang. It is there that James Bond meets Goodhead and survives an assassination to Chang attempt via a centrifuge chamber.
Bond again encounters Goodhead in Venice where he is chased through the canals by Hugo Drax's henchmen. He discovers a secret biological laboratory, and by accidentally poisoning the scientists there, he learns that the glass vials are to hold a nerve gas deadly to humans, but harmless to animals. Bond also finds evidence that Drax is moving his operation to Rio de Janeiro. Rejoining Goodhead, he deduces that she is a CIA agent spying on Drax. They promise to work together, but quickly dispense with the truce. Bond has saved one of the vials he found earlier, as the only evidence of the now-empty laboratory, giving it to M for analysis, who permits him to go to Rio de Janeiro.
In Rio, Bond meets Goodhead at the top of Sugarloaf Mountain, where they are attacked by Jaws on a cable car. After dispatching Jaws, Bond and Goodhead are captured by henchmen, but Bond escapes and reports to an MI6 base in Brazil. Bond travels the Amazon River looking for Drax's research facility and after finding it is captured by Jaws again. Bond is taken to Drax and witnesses four Moonrakers lifting off. Drax explains that he stole the Moonraker because another in the fleet had developed a fault during assembly.
Bond is later reunited with Goodhead and Drax announced that she and James would burn to death under the fire from the engines of a Moonraker-marked Moonraker Five, the fifth of six that were taking off that day from that secret base. But of course Drax couldn't hang about to see his work through. That gave Bond, who had some self-defense equipment of his own, time to blow off a ventilation grille and lead her into a ventilation duct before Moonraker Five took off. They then made their way to the service tunnels, where they ambushed two henchmen, knocked them unconscious, and took the places of the pilot and co-pilot of Moonraker Six. They carried the impersonation all the way "riding" because Moonraker Six had a pre-programmed flight plan to follow, so they wouldn't have to risk detection by flying it themselves and not knowing where to fly.
Happily, Goodhead knew how to fly a Moonraker shuttle. So it was easy for her to manage the jettisoning of the solid-rocket boosters, and then of the external tank, at the proper time. Bond, however, sat before that part of the pilots' console that included the cargo-bay monitors. He switched one on, and discovered they were carrying no cargo, but only passengers.
Dr. Goodhead next got a shock when she saw their destination: a city-sized space station that she could plainly see but did not register on radar. That could mean only one thing: that station had a radar jammer on board. That in turn meant that Drax had hostile intent.
Eventually they docked with the station and heard all the details: Drax plans to destroy human life by launching fifty globes containing of orchid-derived nerve gas that would kill people but not animals. And while they talked about it, he started to launch those globes. Before launching them, Drax says that he also transported several dozen genetically perfect young men and women of varying races, to the space station. Dr. Goodhead and Commander Bond had to do something about this, and fast. First they made their way to the control center for the radar jammer, where Bond cold-cocked the technical crew, and Dr. Goodhead put in a sequence of commands that disabled the radar jammer permanently. Naturally, Drax' metal-mouth chief executioner collared them and brought them before Drax. He proposed to toss them out an airlock. But then Bond observed that any member of the station's crew that did not meet Drax' exacting physical standards would be subject to summary execution. Including Jaws, and the equally strong young woman Jaws had met in South America and encouraged to come with him. And so Jaws rebelled. That rebellion seemed short-lived. But disabling the radar jammer had already produced a result: the United States Air Force had launched a shuttle to investigate a space station that had suddenly appeared in orbit. Drax ordered his crew to fire on it with a laser cannon but Bond jumped for a nearby control panel and hit a button labeled EMERGENCY STOP. That triggered a set of attitude jets that threw everyone into decks and bulkheads, and then left them all weightless.
Drax sent out several laser-armed soldiers in EVA suits. But the shuttle carried two platoons of similarly armed United States Marines. They met Drax' space soldiers in battle and actually managed to defeat them. Before Drax' crew could restart the rotation, the Marines had forced the airlock and docked with the station, so they could attack from two directions at once.
In the pitched battle that followed, the station began to tear itself apart. Bond assured Dr. Goodhead that the globes still aboard the station would break up, and their deadly contents burn, so they could harm no one. But that left the globes Drax had launched before the battle. Bond shouted to Air Force Colonel Scott to get all his mean off the station at once. He then suggested to Holly that they commandeer Moonraker Five--Drax' shuttle. Moonraker Five carried a laser, so they could chase down those globes and blow them up, one by one. They managed to get aboard the shuttle--but couldn't break it free, because the docking mechanism was jammed. Bond asked Jaws, still aboard the station, to help them get loose. This Jaws did. He didn't seem to mind riding the station's main module down to earth--he and his girlfriend seemed fit enough to withstand that and escape alive.
Then Holly didn't have time to think about anything else except chasing those three nerve-gas globes. The laser controls were in front of Bond's seat, and he dispatched the first two of them easily. But then the laser's automatic targeting system malfunctioned so Holly had to pilot the shuttle dangerously close to the atmosphere long enough for Bond to get a clear shot by eye.
They made it, with about five seconds to spare. Then Bond suggested they could land easily, either at Vandenberg, or White Sands, or Edwards AFB. But Holly begged Bond to "take her around the world one more time." So they did one ninety-minute orbit and celebrated their victory in a most intimate fashion.