A 1962 news clip of the hydrogen-powered American Centaur missile exploding after take-off.
Following Yuri Gagarin’s successful orbit in 1961 and President John F. Kennedy’s ambitious plans for investment in space exploration, the American space program suffered a setback when the unmanned Centaur rocket exploded after takeoff on May 8, 1962. The Centaur was the rocket, or booster, that was designed to propel satellites and other spacecraft into orbit. The explosion was caused by a defect that resulted in the combustion of the sensitive hydrogen fuel system. As the voice-over suggests, even failures were learning opportunities.