Science: Some Solace

For 14 minutes last week, Cape Canaveral was treated to one of the most spectacular displays of rocketry in its 11-year space-age history. Splashing a white, blue and orange vapor trail across the radiant dawn sky, a 100-ft.-tall Atlas-Agena rocket lifted in stately perfection off the pad, thundered up on a mission that was to carry its payload 685,000 miles into interplanetary space.

Riding on Atlas-Agena's shoulders was a needle-nosed, 675-lb. assemblage of instruments called Ranger I, whose 19,520 electronic parts were designed to measure cosmic rays, solar radiation and magnetic fields with hitherto unparalleled accuracy. Ranger was not aimed for the...

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