Science: Pretty Darned Good

After months of frustration came the moment of triumph.

The Air Force's costly Discoverer program was an immensely sophisticated effort, but so simple to score that it seemed to be just one failure after another. Its expense, climbing to $100 million this year alone, made it a target for cost-conscious critics, and the army of carpers swelled with each failure and half-success.

Twelve times a Discoverer satellite had been fired, atop a two-stage Thor-Agena rocket, from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.; twelve times it had failed to accomplish its total mission. To prepare the way...

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