“Takeoff” by C. M. Kornbluth was first published in 1952, and was nominated for the 1953 International Fantasy Award.
The story takes place in the near future from when it was written, as a group of scientists, under the guise of researching a potential trip to the moon, are in fact actually trying to build a real rocket ship. Dr. Michael Novak resigns in rage from his job with the Atomic Energy Commission, and finds himself applying for a job with the American Society for Space Flight who claims they are building a mock up of a rocket ship. He becomes suspicious, when their plans seem a bit too specific for a fake ship. When the chief engineer is murdered, Dr. Novak is forced to take on more work, and try to figure out who killed him.