Science: Missile Speedway

The world's longest straightedge is the 6½-mile track at the Air Force Missile Development Center, N. Mex., which has started to flight-test missiles while they are still on the ground. The virtues of this system are many. Instead of destroying itself in a single flight, a missile shot along the track can be recovered undamaged and tested many more times. It can be timed accurately and photographed at close range.

Tangent or Great Circle? To build a track straight and level enough for missiles was a technical tour de force. Air Force experts selected a...

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