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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 patrickjchase on 3/14/2013 5:41:02 PM , Rating: 2
What makes you think that it "took a private citizen to do this"?

Have you ever seen the old Apollo lunar landing simulators from the 1960s?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lunar_Landing_Researc...

For that matter how about the SDIO/Douglas DC-X prototype from the 90s?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McDonnell_Douglas_DC-...

The only thing that's surprising here is that it took private industry 50 years to get back to where Apollo was...


RE: amazing
By delphinus100 on 3/15/2013 10:07:31 PM , Rating: 2
Actually Blue Origin has been doing Grasshopper-like development for a while now, they're just more secretive about it. (one of them 'got away' last year, and exceeded the FAA permitted ceiling)

Armadillo and Masten, on a smaller scale (including mid-air shutdowns and re-starts, which the DC-X never got to, before a landing gear failure destroyed it) were doing VTVL development even longer...


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