Space: The Payoff Was Perfection

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With its impressive performance, Surveyor has once again shuffled the standings in the space race. After Luna 9's lunar landing and Luna 10's lunar orbiting, the Russians seemed clearly ahead. But Luna 9's landing method, which involved the ejection of a well-protected instrument package just before the carrier rocket hit hard on the moon, would probably be fatal to human passengers. Surveyor, on the other hand, employed a soft touchdown technique similar to the one that will be used to land Apollo's Lunar Excursion Module with its two astronauts. Its success was welcome assurance that the U.S.'s man-on-the-moon program is proceeding according to plan.

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