Vanguard TV-3
Vanguard TV-3 Zoom
Vanguard TV-3 aftermath
Vanguard TV-3 aftermath Zoom

It is December 6, 1957, and the U.S. is attempting its first satellite launch. After rising four feet off the pad, the Vanguard TV-3 (Test Vehicle) loses thrust, falls back to the pad, ruptures, and explodes. The payload (a Vanguard satellite, nearly identical to the Vanguard I that was successfully orbited in 1958) is thrown clear and lands a short distance away, its transmitters beeping away.

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Left photo courtesy of U.S. Navy / NASA (Photo ID: VAN-9)
Right photo courtesy of Jerry Tritto
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