The Vanguard launch vehicle was selected by the US for its first attempt to launch a satellite into orbit around the Earth as part of the International Geophysical Year (IGY). The USSR had already launched two Sputnik satellites, with one carrying a dog into orbit, as the US prepared for its first attempt. On December 6, 1957, the Vanguard booster ignited, but about 2 seconds after liftoff, after rising about four feet, the rocket lost thrust and began to crash back down onto the launch pad. As it sank into the launch pad, the fuel tanks ruptured and exploded, destroying the rocket and severely damaging the launch pad. The Vanguard satellite was thrown clear and landed on the ground a short distance away with its transmitters still sending out a beacon signal as it rolled across the ground. It was a humiliating failure. In New York City, members of the Soviet delegation to the United Nations sarcastically asked American delegates if the United States would be interested in receiving aid under USSR's program of technical assistance for backward nations. But by the end of the year, America’s attention was riveted on the efforts of the Army-JPL team to prepare Jupiter-C for an Explorer I satellite-launch attempt, tentatively scheduled for late January l958.
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