Space: Soft Landing on Hard Ground

The unmanned Gemini capsule that descended on the desolate scrub outside Fort Hood, Texas, had not even come close to orbit. It had simply been car ried aloft by an Air Force C-119 trans port and cut loose at the relatively low altitude of 11,000 ft. But the prosaic flight was an effort to answer important questions' Can capsules such as Gemini be brought down to soft landings on hard ground, and can future astronauts be given any control over the point of impact? To both questions the answer was an impressive yes.

Moments after the capsule was dropped from...

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