SpaceX’s Grasshopper – ‘hops’ a little further
Video courtesy of SpaceX
Space Exploration Technologies or “SpaceX” has successfully sent its Grasshopper test article – higher than ever before. The rocket soared some 744 meters skyward, according to a statement issued by the commercial space company. The test was conducted at the company’s Macgregor, Texas facility on Monday October 7.
SpaceX decided that the occasion called for a unique view – one provided by lone camera on a hexacopter. This time? The observing aircraft got closer to Grasshopper than on any previous launch of the vehicle.
The Grasshopper Vertical Takeoff Vertical Landing (VTVL) stands approximately 10 stories tall and is being utilized to validate designs that will be required in a rocket with return capability requirements. Most rockets are designed to be destroyed upon atmospheric entry. SpaceX is working on methods which would change all that. In fact, the company has trumpeted efforts to have stages return back to the launch pad. Grasshopper consists of a Falcon 9 first stage tank, four landing legs, constructed of aluminum and steel along with dampeners and a support structure to soften the craft’s landings.
These efforts could have potential enormous savings in terms of cost, essentially changing what had been an expendable launch vehicle to a possible reusable one. The Grasshopper VTVL is touted as serving as a pathfinder for this effort.
This was the last scheduled flight for Grasshopper. SpaceX now plans to conduct low-altitude flights of what is being called the Falcon 9 Reusable (F9R). Initial flights will be conducted in Texas, with high-altitude tests taking place in New Mexico.
Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology, Space.com, The Mars Society and Universe Today.