Science: Project Hydra

SCIENCE

Missiles and satellite-launching rockets are plenty complicated in themselves, but the pads from which they take off are even more complex. They are tangles of cranes, wires, dugouts and flame-deflectors, and as they increase in size they soar in cost. Besides being expensive, the launching pads are vulnerable; if a present-day rocket explodes on its pad, it may do millions of dollars of damage. The pad for the upcoming Saturn rocket, for example, will cost something like $30 million, and if a Saturn explodes on takeoff, it will destroy most of this investment...

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