The SpaceX Grasshopper reusable rocket in action
In his keynote speech at South By Southwest in Austin, Texas, SpaceX founder Elon Musk expounded on why the company has opted to pursue developing reusable rockets for its commercial space flight program.
Until now, most rockets used by space agencies end up on the bottom of the ocean, but Musk believes that recycling rockets is an important part of pushing space exploration forward, claiming that it could result in a "100-fold reduction in the cost of spaceflight."
SpaceX has been testing a vehicle capable of both vertical takeoff and vertical landing dubbed the Grasshopper.
During his speech in Austin, Musk presented video from the latest test of the Grasshopper, which can be seen in the clip below lifting to a height of 262.8 feet, or 80.1 meters, hovering briefly and then returning to the ground for a soft landing.
This latest "hop" builds off a previous test in December that saw the rocket hover at about half the height and another from September that just barely left the ground.
Check out the full video, complete with Johnny Cash soundtrack:
About the Author
Eric Mack has been covering technology and the world since the late 1990s. As well as being a Gizmag regular, he currently contributes to CNET, NPR and other outlets.
All articles by Eric Mack
This is a good advancement on the work that Armadillo started a decade or so ago. I'm glad to see someone's keeping the torch burning, as it were.
It appear to do beautifully supporting its gas tank. Now let see it do it with an obelisk. Although It IS far easier to balance a sword on your nose than with a knife. so... Let's through in bad weather, turbulences. Outside forces like an angry bird fly into it, just because :]
wow like music and the little cowboy.
Granted I don't know why they chose to land this way instead of using wings but the point is to land boosters that have been separated from their payload, so what you are seeing is it operating under design condition.
I have a lot of respect for Elon and his efforts to keep us moving forward. However, I stood and watched back in the early 90s as McD's DCX reusable launch vehicle made a good sized hole in the ground at WSSH. It had good power, great flight control/stability, increasingly good turn-around times, etc. but it lacked that element of redundency that saves your bacon when thrust falters. None of the shuttle pilots I worked with were impressed. Parachutes and wings will be around for a while for a reason.
Not that I think it's the right approach but Falcon9 has a redundancy of engines.
I have read that the DCX disaster was because a landing leg failed not a lack of thrust. Is your information based on a different source? I know that DCX had successful flights and landings and things often go wrong in test programs. That is why there are test programs. SSTO had lots of redundancy if it had been pursued. I remember DCX's first successful flight came with a quote: "now rockets will take off and land the way God and Rober A. Heinlein meant them to".
While I love Space X (they do in one year what NASA dreams about doing in a decade) and hope they have success with all their endeavors, but I feel we are still riding on Von Brauns coattails.....
Rockets are inherently dangerous and with the temperatures they are dealing with I wonder if reusable rockets is just adding in a whole new set of maintenance issues.
Aviation safety is built on blood. We have safe aircraft now due to all the aircraft accidents we have had in the past.
Once they start reusing rockets they may find the reliability of the rockets may drastically decrease until they figure out what parts can be refurbished and which ones just need to be new again.....
Maybe I am just being pessimistic.
I am not a fan of rockets:)
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