Launched in August 2001, NASA’s Genesis was a delicate unmanned spacecraft designed to collect solar wind samples for further analysis on Earth. The pod was to enter the atmosphere and deploy a chute to slow down it’s speed and while drifting to the ground was going to be intercepted by trained helicopter pilots who would snag the pod mid-air and bring it down safely without damaging it’s delicate sapphire collection plates.
I knew about this mission because the retrieval methods were covered by NPR on the radio when they interviewed the helicopter pilots who were actually stunt pilots from Hollywood. NASA usually turns to the military for such tasks but they decided that the stunt pilots would be better experienced for such a mission.
Things did not go as planned. Hopefully they can piece things together enough so the mission isn’t a total loss.