BEHIND THE SCENES: Ups & Downs

¶ The celebrated misfire of the Vanguard satellite (TIME, Dec. 16) falls into the category of battles that were lost for want of a nail. Studying films and performance data, technicians have traced Vanguard's failure to a leak sprung in a fuel line. The leak produced two quick effects: 1) because an improper ratio of fuel was being pumped into the thrust chamber, the missile lost thrust; 2) escaping fuel spurting against the hot pump assembly caught fire, turned Vanguard into a grounded inferno when the fire backlashed to the fuel tanks....

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