Documentary Series: JPL and the Space Age – Jet Propulsion Laboratory

The laboratory, having built and helped launch the first U.S. satellite into space, wanted to explore not only the moon, but nearby planets. But as this hour-long episode documents, JPL would be humbled by a string of failures that threatened the lab’s very future. “We didn’t know what we were doing,” one veteran JPL engineer confides in the program, “and there was no one around to tell us.”

Ironically, a successful (although barely so) flyby of Venus by Mariner 2 would give the United States its first “First in Space.”

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