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SpaceX will conduct its next phase of Grasshopper flight testing in New Mexico

SpaceX has signed an agreement with Spaceport America to use its facilities for the next phase of Grasshopper testing. 

Under the agreement, SpaceX will use Spaceport America's land and facilities in New Mexico for three years during the next phase of testing for its reusable rocket, "Grasshopper."

“I am thrilled that SpaceX has chosen to make New Mexico its home, bringing their revolutionary 'Grasshopper' rocket and new jobs with them,” Governor Martinez said. “We’ve done a lot of work to level the playing field so we can compete in the space industry. This is just the first step in broadening the base out at the Spaceport and securing even more tenants. I’m proud to welcome SpaceX to New Mexico.”

SpaceX's 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.

“Spaceport America offers us the physical and regulatory landscape needed to complete the next phase of Grasshopper testing," SpaceX President and COO Gwynne Shotwell said. "We are pleased to expand our reusable rocket development infrastructure to New Mexico.”

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk recently demonstrated the Grasshopper back in March, where it lifted to 24 stories (262.8 feet) off the ground, hovered for about 34 seconds and then landed safely back on the ground. This was the highest point Grasshopper had ever reached. 

Source: Spaceport America

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RE: Great news
By Solandri on 5/8/2013 2:50:56 PM , Rating: 2
Having Space X there lends legitimacy the idea and frees commercial companies from NASA owned launch facilities.

Space X launches from NASA's facilities in Cape Canaveral, and the USAF's facilities in Vandenberg. In fact their next scheduled launch is 9 July at Vandenberg AFB.

The only truly commercial launch facility I know of is Sea Launch. Unfortunately it didn't do so well and went bankrupt in 2009 (though it emerged after restructuring and is still operational).

RE: Great news
By Shig on 5/8/2013 4:21:23 PM , Rating: 2
There just isn't a need for more launch facilities until we start launching more rockets. A re-usable rocket would see satellite launches increase 10-100 fold in a matter of business quarters.

The US is FAR ahead of any other country right now. Plus it's not just SpaceX, there are other private space companies in the US too that are also competing.

RE: Great news
By Gondor on 5/8/2013 5:30:15 PM , Rating: 2
Ugh, is there even enough room in various orbits for that many satellites (to operate there for years without frequent incidents) ?

RE: Great news
By Azethoth on 5/8/2013 5:57:18 PM , Rating: 3
There is lots of room provided best practices are followed: old satellites get de-orbited; you don't test your stupid anti-satellite stuff in such a way that you spray crap all over (ie. China); satellites contain fuel to maneuver out of harms way when things get real.

In addition there needs to be an active program to collect and dump existing space junk and keep a lid on all those that failed at best practices.

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