I am just watching Space Race part 3 and the cosmonauts just got their first view of Wostok. The scientist who designed the retrorockets told the soon-to-be spacemen that the rockets would have to be fired precisely in order to not:
- reenter too steep (hence to fast) and crash or
- reenter too shallow and bounce off the atmosphere into a higher orbit
The first point is, of course, well taken (even though one has to wonder why the rockets should be designed with too much power in the first place), but the second point seems dubious to me: After playing KSP, I would suspect that the Wostok's orbit would decay nonetheless after even a minimal braking. How could you enter a higher orbit by touching the atmosphere? That would seem like a great way to get to the moon, after all.