Science: The Next Giant Step

Hitched tightly together, the two rockets look like a mother whale uncomfortably carrying its huge baby on its back. After they lift off from the pad, their configuration becomes even more extraordinary. At an altitude of 44 miles the mother ship unleashes its offspring; then, guided by a two-man crew, it dives back toward earth, using auxiliary jet engines and stubby, finlike wings to touch down like an ordinary aircraft. The smaller rocket ship continues to soar until it reaches a "parking" orbit about 115 miles high. After a single swing around the...

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