Science: Successful Failure

Solemn as a team of surgeons emerging from a hospital amphitheater, scientists from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration last week reported on an operation of their own. Operation Echo A12, they said, was highly successful —but the patient died.

The operation began when a Thor rocket took off from Cape Canaveral just before dawn carrying a canister containing a tightly folded deflated balloon of plastic film and aluminum foil. This was Echo A12, an experimental successor to Echo I, the 100-ft. radio-reflector that was launched on Aug. 12, 1960, and is still orbiting the earth. Echo A12 was not expected to...

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