Stopping Buck Rogers From Going Boom

Surviving atmospheric reentry was once the biggest problem in aerospace

2 min read
Photo of a scientist looking on as a pointed nose cone is heated to mimic reentry conditions.
Photo: Don Cravens/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images

Going to space is easy. Coming back in one piece is hard.

Rockets start off moving slowly at the bottom of the Earth’s atmosphere, where the air pressure is highest. As they gain altitude, and the danger of overheating or structural failure due to dynamic pressure decreases, rockets can go faster and faster.

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The Unsung Inventor Who Chased the LED Rainbow

LEDs came only in shades of red—until George Craford expanded the palette

10 min read
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Man  with grey hair wearing dress shirt and tie standing in front of an LED stoplight and holding a panel with yellow and red LEDs glowing
DarkBlue2

Walk through half a football field’s worth of low partitions, filing cabinets, and desks. Note the curved mirrors hanging from the ceiling, the better to view the maze of engineers, technicians, and support staff of the development laboratory. Shrug when you spot the plastic taped over a few of the mirrors to obstruct that view.

Go to the heart of this labyrinth and there find M. George Craford, R&D manager for the optoelectronics division of Hewlett-Packard Co., San Jose, Calif. Sitting in his shirtsleeves at an industrial beige metal desk piled with papers, amid dented bookcases, gym bag in the corner, he does not look like anybody’s definition of a star engineer.

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