SpaceX, a company that has made tremendous leaps forward in the past year alone, has recently completed yet another successful test of its reusable Grasshopper spacecraft. This isn't the Grasshopper's first test run, but this time around it bested it previous record after it hoped to an altitude nearly 24 stories high, hovered for 34 seconds, before descending for a perfect landing right back on its liftoff position.
The test run marks yet another big step forward in SpaceX's plans of building a fully reusable rocket, which in long-run will allow for cheaper space flights.
The ten stories tall Grasshopper is powered by Falcon 9 rocket first stage tank and a Merlin 1D engine, and has four steel and aluminum landing legs with hydraulic dampers and a steel support structure. The latter are indispensable for the spacecraft's reusable capabilities, and were fundamental for its most precise landing yet, dead center on the launch pad. As you can imagine, Elon Musk was made very proud.
"Grasshopper, SpaceX’s vertical and takeoff and landing (VTVL) vehicle, continues SpaceX’s work toward one of its key goals – developing fully and rapidly reusable rockets, a feat that will transform space exploration by radically reducing its cost," says the company.
"With Grasshopper, SpaceX engineers are testing the technology that would enable a launched rocket to land intact, rather than burning up upon reentry to the Earth’s atmosphere."
This was the spacecraft's fourth test run, each time doubling its altitude. Watch Grasshopper's take off and perfect landing in the video below.