April 24, 2013
SpaceX Grasshopper Makes Its Highest Leap Yet
[ Watch the Video: Grasshopper 250m Test | Ring of Fire ]
April Flowers for redOrbit.com - Your Universe OnlineSpaceX, a private space transportation company, announced the fifth successful flight trial of its Grasshopper Vertical Takeoff Vertical Landing (VTVL) Vehicle. Grasshopper flew 820 feet straight up, hovered in place while holding against the wind, and then returned to the launch pad.
According to a Universe Today report, the 10-story Grasshopper was designed by SpaceX to test technologies needed to return a rocket back to Earth intact, rather than allowing the rocket to burn up during reentry.
The Verge says that the Grasshopper has hit some "impressive marks" prior to this launch, including a March 10 flight of 260 feet with a precisely controlled landing. The Grasshopper isn't ready for a spaceflight yet, and SpaceX hasn't released a timeline for that event. Their goal in designing the Grasshopper, which is based in part on the Falcon 9 rocket family with added metal landing legs, is to create the first viable, commercial, rapidly reusable rocket. Such technology would drastically reduce the costs associated with spaceflight, paving the way for more routine orbital launches. This might include launches by civilians at some point in the future.
To implement the reusability technology being tested, the company plans to retrieve a Falcon 9 first-stage rocket component from an ocean landing later this year and reuse it. There are plans to attempt a first-stage landing on dry ground using the landing legs in 2014.