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First U.S. Attempt: Vanguard
Vanguard exploding on launch pad

After the launch of the Soviet satellite Sputnik 1 on Oct. 1, 1957, the U.S. Navyís Vanguard project was fast-tracked to launch a satellite by the end of the year. The projectís fiery launch pad failure in December 1957 severely shook the morale of the American public. The spherical Vanguard satellite was thrown clear of the explosion and continued beeping away.

Image credit: U.S. Navy

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