Space: A Bolt In the Blue

A Bolt In the Blue

Atlas-Centaur rockets have been launching U.S. satellites into orbit for the past 25 years, but last week the sturdy workhorse suffered a rare failure. Less than a minute after lift-off from Pad 36B at Cape Canaveral in threatening weather, a $78 million, 137-ft. rocket disappeared into rain- swollen thunderheads and went out of control. A range safety officer hit the destruct button, and the rocket exploded along with its payload, an $83 million communications satellite. For NASA, struggling to recover from the loss of the Challenger shuttle 14 months ago, the aborted flight broke a string of seven successful launches since...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!