Angels. Misleading radar signals usually caused by birds, or bugs in the circuitry.

Auntie. Anti-missile missile.

Barber chair. Adjustable seat for an astronaut.

Beast. Big missile or rocket.

Bird. Any missile or rocket.

Brain. Missile guidance system.

Creeps. Itchy skin caused by low pressure in a capsule.

Elephant ear. Thick metal plate that reinforces a missile's skin.

Garbage. Rocket parts that go into orbit along with a satellite.

Kick in the apogee. Raising a satellite's orbit by firing a rocket engine at its point of maximum altitude.

Malfunction Junction. Cape Canaveral.

N.I.H. Not invented here.

Peenemünde South. Huntsville, Ala., headquarters of Dr. Wernher von Braun.

Scrub Club. Program with many annoying failures.

Sitting fat. Successfully...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

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