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What was the Earth’s first man-made satellite? “Sputnik!” I hear you cry.

Whilst that’s largely held to be true, and I’m not really trying to dispute it either, there is an interesting anecdote from the Nevada Test Site, the US’ cold war nuclear testing ground, from a Dr Robert Brownlee. According to the legend, during the “Operation Plumbob” underground tests, the cap on the blast chamber was blown off at five times the escape velocity of earth. A speed that could potentially make it the fastest moving man made object ever.

This sounds too far fetched to be true, with too many implausible assumptions made. When we trace the story from the beginning, however, it’s not impossible. Unlikely, sure, but not impossible.

It all started with Operation Plumbbob. After becoming concerned about the amount of radiation being released by the nuclear testing, scientists working on the project Enter Pascal A. This was the first test of the enclosed