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The Grasshopper lifted to 24 stories (262.8 feet) off the ground

SpaceX took its reusable Grasshopper rocket for another hop last week at the South by Southwest festival in Texas.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk was there to demonstrate the Grasshopper's fourth test flight, which was twice as high as the reusable rocket has ever gone in previous demonstrations.

"Grasshopper touched down with its most accurate thus far on the centermost part of the launch pad," said SpaceX. "At touchdown, the thrust-to-weight ratio of the vehicle was greater than one, proving a key landing algorithm for Falcon 9."

The Grasshopper lifted to 24 stories (262.8 feet) off the ground, hovered for about 34 seconds and then landed safely back on the ground.

The Grasshopper 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.

The reusable rocket was tested in September, November, December and last week Thursday.

Check out this video of Thursday's demonstration:

Source: NBC News

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RE: amazing
By garidan on 3/11/2013 10:34:19 PM , Rating: 2
Wings are heavy and have no use to go up, they are air breaks even.
A rocket weights a lot, has it's own engines and doesn't need a plane which should anyway be very very big to lift it just to reach 20Km of height, on the way to 200km and beyond to orbit.

The beauty of the SpaceX plan is that all the weight you put for reuse is almost due to fuel, so that it becomes a safety margin too in case of problems at launch.
Do you have an engine out, you use more fuel and complete mission, and sacrifice that core for reuse.
And it scales very well for their Falcon Heavy, where they aim to use the same "technique" to recover the side boosters and core, something wings would not allow.

They are doing well, the first next launch with their new Falcon 1.1 rocket they'll test the first stage turn around (using cold gas) and reignition to break and try a "land" test on the ocean.
See NASA forum

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