Buck Rogers in the 25th Century Wiki

Introduction to Awakening - "The year is 1987..." NASA launches Ranger Three, piloted by Captain Rogers. It is the last of America's deep space probes.

The probe is launched atop a giant rocket similar to a Saturn V rocket, the sort used in the earlier Apollo missions. This new rocket had some problems in testing ("The Guardians"), which concerned Buck's mother.

Once out of Earth orbit, Ranger Three was capable of tremendous speeds, and was to have toured the entire solar system within five months. Clearly, faster than light travel, if not already a reality, was close at hand.

In a freak mishap, Rogers is frozen and remains in a state of suspended animation for 504 years. (Six months prior to "Testimony of a Traitor") Buck relives this experience in 2493. ("The Guardians")