Yes, Gus Grissom's lost space capsule still looks pretty good after almost 38 years in the drink, thanks to its titanium-aluminum construction. It sits upright on a sandy knoll three miles deep, its window and parachute liner still intact and its periscope still extended. The words "Liberty Bell 7" and a fake crack painted on its side are still clearly visible. Even the singe marks left by the explosives that blew off that infamous hatch door are visible on the video sent back by a remote-control submersible.
And Curt Newport found it on the first try. "I remember saying, 'Oh my God, I can't believe it. That's it. We found it. This is it!"' Newport said afterward. The sonar on the salvage expert's ship had spotted 88 potential targets in the 24-square-mile area Newport had isolated after 14 years of analyzing NASA charts and photographs. The first object Newport checked out looked like airplane wreckage -- until he made out the words "United States" on the video monitor. Mission accomplished. But the mystery of why the hatch blew in the first place will likely go unsolved. Film and tape in the capsule is likely unsalvageable, and Newport estimates the hatch door itself could be as much as a mile away. But he plans to spend a day looking for it when the team returns to raise the capsule in several weeks, and you never know -- he might get lucky again.