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Supersonic Spies

Program Overview


With the sound barrier broken, design engineers turned to their next big challenge: build the world's first supersonic passenger jet. Against the backdrop of the cold war, the Soviet Union and the West squared off in a race to be first. On December 31, 1968, the Soviets won, launching the TU-144 three months before Concorde's maiden flight.

Competition continued over the years, with one tragic incident occurring at the 1973 Paris Air Show where the TU-144 suddenly lost control and crashed, killing its Soviet crew and eight French citizens. NOVA follows this intensely competitive chapter in aeronautical history, from massive industrial espionage and government cover-ups to today's period of cooperation to build the second generation of supersonic passenger jets.

Teacher's Guide
Supersonic Spies
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