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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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This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

By mjv.theory on 12/27/2012 10:18:36 AM , Rating: 2
A flight of a disposable Falcon 9 can be purchased from SpaceX for $54,000,000 (prices are on their website). Elon Musk claims the cost of the fuel is about $200,000, which is 0.37% of the total cost.

Fuel per 100 flights = 100 x 200,000 = 20,000,000
Vehicle cost per 100 flights = 54,000,000
Ground operations and maintenance = 100 x 260,000

Cost per flight = $1,000,000

If the vehicle can fly 1000 times then to cost per flight is perhaps $500,000.


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