“The Rocket of 1955,” C. M. Kornbluth, 1954 – (short short) Two hustlers engage in a scheme with a German scientist to defraud investors using a rocket launch. As expected, the rocket explodes and they attempt to flee with the money. The German, however, is disgusted “with the part he played,” confesses, and commits suicide. The hustlers are hanged with an “insulting thick rope.”
Comments: Themes of atom bomb, Einstein, con men. Genre critique? RevolutionSF adds this comment: “This story is interesting in that it was inspired by an actual event from Kornbluth’s Futurian days: the launching of a model rocket filled with fan mail. The rocket crashed, of course, to much fanfare.”
Author: Wikipedia: “Cyril M. Kornbluth (July 2, 1923 – March 21, 1958) was an American science fiction author and a notable member of the Futurians.” Interested readers: “Re-reading Kornbluth” by Robert Silverberg. See also James Sallis’s review of C. M. Kornbluth: The Life and Works of a Science Fiction Visionary (2010) in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.