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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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space elevator
By g35fan on 12/27/2012 11:23:11 AM , Rating: 2
Anyone know cost estimates on building the space elevator? I don't know squat about this kinda stuff but I think that would be an awesome project for all of mankind.

RE: space elevator
By cyberguyz on 12/28/2012 6:39:22 AM , Rating: 2
At least until an earthquake took it out ;)

RE: space elevator
By Azethoth on 12/28/2012 11:41:14 PM , Rating: 2
Why would an earthquake take it out? It is not actually standing on the ground...

RE: space elevator
By sorry dog on 12/31/2012 3:02:03 PM , Rating: 2
It's hard to estimate the cost of something that you don't yet know exactly how to build.

...which is part of the reason things like vertical takeoff supersonic stealth fighters are insanely expensive...then add government procurement to that and it becomes insane expensive x 2.

Why build 1 when you can build 1 and half at twice the price??

RE: space elevator
By delphinus100 on 1/1/2013 2:31:10 PM , Rating: 2
Indeed. Technically, it's an object that's in geostationary orbit (its center of mass is, anyway) that happens to be long enough to reach the ground (and an equal amount of mass extending out beyond GEO)...

RE: space elevator
By delphinus100 on 1/1/2013 2:13:31 PM , Rating: 2
A Space Elevator is nice, if you don't mind a slow ride through the VanAllen belts to get to geostationary (and by definition, zero-degree inclination) orbit...whether that's the orbit you wanted or not. Not everyone does. (and you can't get off at a lower point and be in orbit there, unless you can make up the necessary horizontal velocity yourself)

And it's a stationary potential impact target for any object in any other kind of orbit...

I believe Space Elevators will one day prove physically possible...but never practical.

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