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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 mjv.theory on 3/12/2013 5:00:21 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
As far as reusable spacecraft go, the Space Shuttle had the right idea.

I never saw the videos of the enormous external tank making an intact landing.

The fuel required to get 200miles up is only about 10% of the total. Most of the fuel is used to get to 7500m/s: orbital "velocity" - essentially you are not so much trying to go UP, as go FAST. This is what makes a staged rocket more mass efficient than a SSTO.

quote:
I suspect the most energy efficient way to travel to space and return is to take-off like a plane and fly to altitude, use rockets to get into orbit, use atmospheric drag to get out of orbit, then fly to a landing like a plane.

Using conventional rockets engines, this is incorrect. Something along the lines of Reaction Engines plans with Skylon, using their Sabre engines would be required. Also consider, wings are likely more of a liability during re-entry.

The fuel required to get 200miles up is only about 10-15% of the total. Most of the fuel is used to get to 7500m/s: orbital "velocity" - essentially you are not so much trying to go UP, as go FAST. This is what makes a staged rocket more mass efficient than a SSTO design (single stage to orbit). I suspect that a staged VTOL system like Falcon 9 might well also benefit from Sabre-like engines and eventually be the optimal solution.


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