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Grasshopper

SpaceX gave a dramatic demonstration on Friday of why spacecraft undergo such thorough testing. At its testing ground at McGregor, Texas, a SpaceX Falcon 9 Reusable Development Vehicle 1 (F9R Dev 1) exploded in midair during a test flight. Nearby residents saw the fireball and local television station KXXV caught the incident on video. Elon Musk tweeted that the vehicle "auto-terminated," but there were no injuries or near-injuries, and that “Rockets are tricky …” Read More
SpaceX made another successful Grasshopper flight last week, which was also the last flight for Grasshopper v1.0. Its swan song lasted some 80 seconds, during which time Grasshopper reached an altitude of 744 meters (nearly half a mile), more than twice the previous record. Grasshopper v1.1 is well along the road to flight tests. Read More

For those readers who haven’t been following its progress, SpaceX’s Grasshopper is a prototype reusable launch vehicle that’s designed to perform a vertical landing back on Earth after delivering its payload into space. While it’s already managed a few low-altitude test hops, yesterday (Aug. 13) it reached a new milestone by performing a “lateral divert test.” Read More

Back in June, SpaceX's Grasshopper reusable VTOL rocket was flown to an altitude of 325 meters (1,066 feet) before landing on its original launch pad. The video of the flight (taken by a hexacopter drone hovering at 325 meters) has now been made available. The purpose of the flight was to test Grasshopper's full navigation sensor suite with the F9-R closed loop control flight algorithms to improve the precision of its landings. Grasshopper is designed to develop and test the technologies needed to return a reusable rocket from space missions. (There is no word on whether the cowboy mannequin was carried along by Grasshopper on this flight.) Read More

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. Read More

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