MISSILES: Up on Solid Fuel

Back in 1928. Kansas City Chemist J. C. Patrick stirred up a gummy mess of sulphur, carbon and hydrogen in an attempt to find a better, cheaper antifreeze. What he got was not antifreeze but one of the first types of synthetic rubber. He named it Thiokol (after the Greek for sulphur and glue), and with friends formed Thiokol Chemical Corp. As a rubbermaker, Thiokol did not go very far saleswise (one reason: it smelled so foul that it was dubbed "synthetic halitosis"). But since the age of space, the company has rocketed because Thiokol is a chief component in...

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