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SpaceX's Grasshopper reusable rocket is a 10-story-tall test vehicle for vertical launch and landing, meaning rockets could not only lift straight up into the sky, but return down to Earth the same way, gently touching down on land when the mission is completed.
For Grasshopper's second test flight, the vehicle hopped nearly two stories (17.7 feet, or 5.4 meters), and then touched down safely on its launch pad. The test, which lasted 8 seconds, took place at SpaceX's rocket testing facility in McGregor, Tex., on Nov. 1.
No complete rocket has ever landed intact after launching to space.While NASA's space shuttle orbiters were reusable — the winged space planes glided back to Earth and landed on runways — the solid rocket boosters and external tank that helped them reach orbit were not fully recyclable.
But Grasshopper is part of SpaceX's attempt to change this.
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