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Gold Collection). Four days before the launch, I was in a stall in the men’s room down the hall from General Yates’s office when I heard a familiar voice. It was the general himself, talking to an ARPA man. “Check the place out,” Yates ordered. The ARPA man scanned the men’s room before bending over and looking under each stall’s door. By then my feet were up around my ears. ” The spook sounded gleeful. “If he tells the world, and we fail, we’ll simply deny it. ” The two men finished and left.

And the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was born. America was on the move, and someone had to manage the new space effort. Who would lead? The army, navy, and air force all sought the assignment, as did the Pentagon’s ARPA and the Atomic Energy Commission. But the White House focused on the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), an inconspicuous group of scientists who oversaw federal flight-technology laboratories. NACA possessed some of the best engineering talent in the country.

Moscow radio said it is circling the globe every 96 minutes, reaching as far out as 569 miles as it zips along at more than 17,000 miles per hour. Fitzgerald froze. He didn’t want to believe his fully written newscast had just been flushed down the toilet. ” he cursed in protest before hurrying across the newsroom and bursting into Morgan Beatty’s office. “Mo, we’ve gotta update,” he shouted. ” Beatty, a World War II correspondent, never came unglued in battles and he wasn’t about to be upset by an agitated editor.

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