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The Grasshopper Project is a Falcon first stage with a landing gear that's capable of taking off and landing vertically

SpaceX is undoubtedly the rockstar of U.S. space travel, and now, the company is taking its commitment to innovation to a whole new level.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is currently testing what is called the Grasshopper Project, which is a major breakthrough in rocket reusability.

The Grasshopper Project is a Falcon first stage with a landing gear that's capable of taking off and landing vertically. It does this by shooting into orbit, turning around, restarting the engine, heading back to the launch site, changing its direction and deploying the landing gear. The end result is a vertical landing.

Check out this video of the Grasshopper Project in action:

After NASA retired its space shuttle fleet (Discovery, Endeavour and Atlantis shuttles) throughout 2011, SpaceX stepped in as the first private company to ship supplies to the International Space Station (ISS).

SpaceX flew its Dragon capsule and Falcon 9 rocket to the ISS for the first time back in May for a test supply run. After that successful trip, SpaceX and NASA signed a $1.6 billion contract that allows SpaceX to complete 12 supply trips to the ISS and back.

On October 7, SpaceX made its first official supply run as part of that contract. It arrived October 10. The mission was a success.

Dragon is due to make its second run in January 2013. SpaceX is also looking to send the first manned Dragon capsule to the ISS somewhere between 2015 and 2017.

Source: Business Insider

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RE: Top notch work
By Rage187 on 12/26/2012 10:12:14 AM , Rating: 1
I'd rather pay private firms. They quickly innovate vs. public employee bloat that just slows everything down and makes everything cost 4 times as much as it should.

RE: Top notch work
By tayb on 12/26/2012 11:25:21 AM , Rating: 5
Yes because NASA has been a miserable failure thus far... over budget and under performing. They didn't go to the moon multiple times, send out craft that have been roaming the solar system for a few decades, and recently land an advanced mobile science laboratory on Mars which was one of the most impressive feats in history. Nor have they contributed to the development of hundreds of technologies normal folks like us enjoy and use every day such as scratch resistant lenses, memory foam, long distance calling, and water filters just to name a few.

Meanwhile we're doing great with "private" contracts with Lockheed Martin and Boeing. The F-35 isn't overdue and over budget and buyers aren't cancelling their orders. If NASA is full of bloat and failure with their small budget what does that make Lockheed Martin?

RE: Top notch work
By Dr. Kenneth Noisewater on 12/26/2012 4:46:08 PM , Rating: 2
Defense contracts are barely private industry: they are intimately connected with the government's procurement process and the politics that control it. For example, the F-35 project has a ton of uneconomic 'business' decisions that were made in order to spread the work out to multiple congressional districts and thus guarantee political support. The closer your work gets to the government, whether military (DoD) or civilian (NASA), the less efficient and more politically bullshitty it gets.

NASA, like most big-ticket DoD procurement, is just welfare for smart and/or skilled people.

RE: Top notch work
By delphinus100 on 1/1/2013 2:06:13 PM , Rating: 2
Mars Science Laboratory was successful, but still well over-budget.

If the James Webb Space Telescope flies, it will be, too.

RE: Top notch work
By delphinus100 on 1/1/2013 2:03:27 PM , Rating: 2
Anything that seriously reduces cars in the parking lots of NASA centers, or work for certain contractors, will be fought tooth and nail by the Senators and Representatives whose districts they are in...

NASA just doesn't think 'lean and mean,' (Apollo was 'mean,' but time constraints meant it didn't require 'lean.' 'Good, fast, cheap...pick two.' NASA's oriented to good but fast, 'NewSpace' to good and cheap.) or demand it of its contractors. And those traditional contractors are quite happy with the status quo.

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