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SpaceX Grasshopper blasts to new heights in fifth test (video)

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April 23, 2013

SpaceX Grasshopper achieves a 250-m altitude

SpaceX Grasshopper achieves a 250-m altitude

The fifth and latest test launch of SpaceX's Grasshopper continues a recent trend of exponential altitude gains, reaching a height of 250 meters (820 feet) earlier this week. This was more than three times the altitude achieved in its March test.

In turn, that flight doubled the altitude of 40 m reached in December. Before that, the VTVL vehicle (which stands for vertical takeoff, vertical landing) achieved a pair of hops only a few meters from the ground.

Grasshopper is a part of SpaceX's ongoing efforts to build a reusable rocket system. It is comprised of a first-stage tank from a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, one Merlin-1D engine (to a regular Falcon's nine), and four steel landing legs.

On Twitter, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk suggested conditions were less than perfect. "Grasshopper rocket flies up 250m, holds against wind and lands," he wrote, adding (as one would if one had one), "Vid taken from our hexacopter."

See our December coverage for more details of the Grasshopper, or alternatively, watch the launch video below. Warning: Grasshopper-followers will have heard the sound track before.

About the Author
James Holloway James lives in East London where he punctuates endless tea drinking with freelance writing and meteorological angst. Unlocking Every Extend Extra Extreme’s “Master of Extreme” achievement was the fourth proudest moment of his life.   All articles by James Holloway
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11 Comments

Awesome. Congrats...

Toeknee
23rd April, 2013 @ 12:54 pm PDT

If anyone who watched B Sci-Fi movies from the 50's were to see this video, they would say: "What's the big deal? Isn't that how rockets are supposed land?"

Glad to see technology catching up with science fiction fantasy. Great going SpaceX. I can't wait to what this leads to.

mpthompson
23rd April, 2013 @ 03:59 pm PDT

The guys at SpaceX are my heroes! Woot! Woot!

Bob Shock
23rd April, 2013 @ 05:07 pm PDT

It is really impressive that they can land like that and I am more than willing to ride on a Dragon flight but I still haven't figured out why they want to land like that.

Slowburn
23rd April, 2013 @ 09:15 pm PDT

It all comes down to money. Landing a ship at the launch site reduces / eliminates the recovery costs.

BeachWizard
24th April, 2013 @ 05:09 am PDT

Pay attention to the cast shadows of the rocket and the tower nearby.

The shadows are too dark.

Also, play the video back and forth in slow motion and try to follow the rocket and shadow path.

Neo Forward
24th April, 2013 @ 06:59 am PDT

Correct me if I'm mistaken but the concept here is for this to be the recoverable first stage on a multistage rocket. Having a reusable first stage dramatically cuts the cost of getting a payload into orbit does it not?

Matthew Jacobs
24th April, 2013 @ 11:19 am PDT

Shades of the DCX! I am glad that someone is keeping this technology alive and relearning how it is done. Hopefully this will eventually lead to a SSTO design like was developed in the past and dumped due to corporate politics.

History Nut
24th April, 2013 @ 11:29 am PDT

Neo,

I agree. I'd like to think there's a little retouch work going on. The descent at near touchdown and touchdown itself indicate shadows appearing too crisp and lacking depth in the rocket exhaust. Or.....Maybe I'm just upset that I don't have a hexakopter to experiment with.

Regardless, I think it's fantastic that the private sector, Space X in particular is moving forward! IMHO the program would be regulated to death in a government agency.

Dieter
24th April, 2013 @ 12:35 pm PDT

Great work . But can't we design a single earth to space flying ship that doesn't need the thrust of rockets ?

Something that uses the atmosphere , such as a jet , until it gets close to stall , then rockets take over the rest of the mission , then returning like the shuttle .

Gianfranco Fronzi

Gianfranco Fronzi
24th April, 2013 @ 02:26 pm PDT

re; BeachWizard

And you can't choose where to land with wings?

re; History Nut

SSTO has not been done and might not be possible. Besides a fully reusable 2 stage is more cost effective.

Slowburn
24th April, 2013 @ 03:18 pm PDT
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