Fiorello Bodoni, a poor junkyard owner, has managed to save $3,000 to fulfill his lifelong dream of sending one member of his family on a trip to outer space. The family, however, finds it impossible to choose who will go because those left behind will inevitably envy the chosen one for the rest of their lives. Bodoni instead uses the money to build a replica rocket from an old mock-up, and sets up a 3D theater inside the cabin and convinces the children they are actually going through space.
The British edition, first published in 1952 by Hart-Davis omits The Rocket Man, The Fire Balloons, The Exiles and The Concrete Mixer, and adds Usher II from The Martian Chronicles and The Playground from The Stories of Ray Bradbury.
An edition published in 2001 by William Morrow omits The Fire Balloons and adds The Illustrated Man to the end of the book.