To Amos Jordan, Secretary for Cislunar Navigation, no situation was unsolvable. There were rules for everything, weren't there.... Except maybe this thing ...
atmosphere in, oh, say the last thirty-six hours?"
Jordan's eyes lit up like twin afterburners.
"They'll have it hidden like the British crown jewels, but...." He grabbed the phone. "Gerry? Have General Criswell paged and ask him to come to my office if possible." He chuckled triumphantly. "Criswell's on the Joint Security Service Board ... what an exercise for that gumshoe outfit!"
* * * * *
It took three hours for General Criswell's ferrets to obtain facsimiles of the reports needed. A sweating staff (borrowed from the cryptographic section to preserve secrecy) finally broke them down to three probables: a Lunar courier which had aborted and returned to base for no clean cut reason, an alleged training exercise in three body orbits with the instructors' seats inexplicably filled with nothing lower than the rank of Lieut. Commander and a sour smelling sortie out of Guantanamo labeled Operation Artifact.
* * * * *
Jordan remained sold on the latter for half
Senseless and stupid. The nation makes a fuss over an old artificial satellite. There is nothing in this story to care about, but the characters care o-so-much about nothing. Worse than a waste of time. Avoid this one.
185 years after its launch in 1958 the hulk of Delta 58 is about to finally reenter the atmosphere and burn up. Except . . . some factions want to preserve it for one reason, and others for other reasons, and they all write congress.
More of a satire on government and the military than hard science fiction, but maybe that's what science fiction is. A story from 1960, it's interesting that no one smokes. Women, it's true, only exist as secretaries, and phones seem to still have cords, but the story was amusing.