Ellie Arroway (Jodie Foster) has devoted herself to science for her entire life -- firm in the belief that there is something more in the universe. One morning, at deep-space research station in the desert, a radio message is received from the distant star, Vega to vindicate her belief. As the countries of the world unite in an effort to decode the transmission, the planet faces the message with equal parts hope and fear, for contained within it are blueprints for a machine of intergalactic travel capable of transporting its passenger to deep space. It could mean the dawning of an astounding new era -- or certain Armageddon
As the world wrestles with the questions raised by the message, and humanity warily approaches the brink of a new millennium, Ellie vies to be selected as the single representative who will leave the Earth to explore the galaxies, seeking the unknown extraterrestrial source --and becoming the first person to make contact. But her personal voyage will take her beyond theory, beyond knowledge, beyond experience, to the realization that true vision is ultimately the union of fact and faith.