Yeah, my post was too simplistic. Wings are not categorically an obsolete technique in a launch / re-entry vehicle.
It's just that one can't say capsules are bad because they are old-fashioned. (Maybe you didn't mean that but that's the gist of what I understood.)
You could likely quite easily soft-land capsules with parawings / parafoils. This seems to me to be the optimal path: very small mass and still precision landings. (Maybe not thousands of kilometers of cross range but tens of kilometers anyway.)
Capsules can be extremely light. This solves so many other problems it's a very good idea to look at them hard. Lifting bodies are heavy and things with wings are elephants. Capsules have great margins in control and thermal issues and are very easy to build.
I'm not dismissing winged vehicles out of hand. Just saying they start with a significant weight disadvantage, which effects everything down below in the hierarchy, the launcher, ground infrastructure... There are good reasons why all operational re-entry vehicles but one have been capsules.
Like there are reasons why airplanes were airplanes and not airships, re-entry craft are not spaceplanes automatically - the environment is different and requires a clean sheet thinking to find the best approach.
There is a midway ground between winged and capsule reentry vehicles and that is the one Lockheed Martin took back in the June 2005 article in Popular Mechanics. And please note, L-M proposed to use titanium for the reentry vehicle, which greatly reduces the mass of the required heat-shield, even for lunar reentry profiles. I think that a titanium based capsule design could come in a bit lighter, but at the expense of hypersonic cross range capability. I still wish though that NASA had allowed an open competition between this L-M stub-wing vehicle and Boeing's Apollo Capsule redo to see who would really come out on top overall operationally, but Griffin had already stacked the deck to meet his and his controller's requirements.http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/air_space/1534782.html
"May 3, 2005 -- When NASA requested designs for a Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV), two major teams--one headed by Lockheed Martin and one by Northrop Grumman and Boeing--took on the challenge. The winning concept will be chosen in 2008, and the manned vehicle flown in 2014.
The agency's primary requirement is to "ensure crew safety through all mission phases." The Lockheed team--consisting of six companies--came up with a CEV in three parts. The titanium crew module holds four to six astronauts and launches separately from the mission module and the propulsion stage. They rendezvous in orbit to create a 70-ft.-long vehicle that weighs just under 40 metric tons.
The team scrapped foam insulation in favor of a redundant Thermal Protection System that includes a backed-up carbon-carbon heat shield. In an emergency, a rescue module designed into the top 22 ft. of the crew module can be fired off at any time. The CEV is not designed to glide upon re-entry like the shuttle; rather, it will be equipped with parachutes and airbags to set down on land or water. Interchangeable computer systems will increase adaptability between modules."