Eric Frank Russell's "Dreadful Sanctuary" (novel, thriller): Man must not go to space cultists vs hero who says we'll go
Story summary.Over a dozen human attempts to reach moon have all failed - rockets exploding when they're about a certain critical distance from moon. It's too much of a coincidence & there is no reason to suspect sabotage; rockets of several countries have met the same fate.
There is a man financially involved in the next rocket to go. And he's smelling conspiracy...
- Title refers to earth. There is an unreliable back story: Humanity independently evolved on 4 worlds - blacks on Mercury, browns on Venus, yellows on earth, & whites on Mars (skin color depends on their distance from sun). All civilizations except earth reach maturity a long long time ago, & banished war. But they still had crazies who were not cured of need to war. They were herded on 3 worlds, & transported to earth to rid the mother worlds of them - back when earthmen were really primitive. So earth is a prison planet & all except those of yellow skin are descended from the crazies dumped here!
Fact sheet.First published: Astounding, June/July/August 1948.
Among the stories edited by John Campbell for Astounding/Analog.
Related: Stories of Eric Frank Russell (annotated list).