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News Link • Space Travel and Exploration

Reusable 'Grasshopper' Rocket Concept Makes 1st Test Flight

• http://www.space.com, by Tariq Malik
 It's one small hop for a rocket, but one giant leap for reusable rocket ships: A private rocket prototype has sailed through a 6-foot hop that, while short, marked a in a major test for a novel reusable launch system being developed by commercial spaceflight company SpaceX.

Called "Grasshopper," the rocket lifted off briefly then set back down on four spidery legs during the recent test at SpaceX's proving ground in McGregor, Texas.

"The short hop of approximately 6 feet is the first major milestone for Grasshopper, and a critical step toward a reusable first stage for SpaceX’s proven Falcon 9 rocket," SpaceX officials said of the Sept. 21 test.
 
The Grasshopper rocket uses the first stage of SpaceX's successful Falcon 9 rocket, a two-stage booster that stands nearly 227 feet tall (70 meters) and is used to launch the company's Dragon space capsules and other payloads into low-Earth orbit. On Grasshopper, the Falcon 9 first stage is attached to a steel support structure that stands on four landing legs.

The Sept. 21 test hop is just the first in a series of flight demonstrations, SpaceX officials said. The next major milestone — a 100-foot (33-meter) flight — is planned for sometime in the next few months.

 
 

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