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 ¬óbut 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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