Science: Practice Space Show

Three minutes after the Thor rocket made its predawn blastoff from Cape Canaveral, a new star flared bright yellow across the dark sky. Tiny by standard star measurements, the man-made balloon of plastic and aluminum was 135 ft. in diameter—tall as a 13-story building, and large enough to be seen by the unaided eye.

But the show was even more dramatic in the Canaveral control room, where technicians saw every detail of the balloon's brief life reported by a TV camera carried aloft by the launching rocket. The screen first showed a round metal canister containing the folded balloon as it separated...

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