SpaceX Grasshopper 10 breaks altitude record on its last flight

first_imgSpaceX has made yet another successful test flight of the Grasshopper reusable vertical-takeoff, vertical-landing (VTVL) rocket, but this one is significant for two reasons. It smashed the previous record by reaching an altitude of 744 meters, but it was also the final flight for Grasshopper v1.0. Don’t be too down, though. SpaceX is preparing for even bigger v1.1 test flights in the near future.The goal for the Grasshopper program is to perfect the complex computer control system that would allow the Falcon 9 rocket to lift off, and eventually lower itself back to Earth after delivering its payload to orbit. This would allow for a truly reusable launch platform, and the most recent test is the best sign yet that SpaceX could pull it off.In the span of 80 seconds, the Grasshopper v1.0 leaps almost half a mile into the air, then sets itself back down on the 30×30 meter launch pad. The footage was captured from a hexacopter hovering worryingly close to the rocket as it hung in the sky — it’s a very science fiction moment.The Grasshopper test bed is based on the company’s Falcon 9 first-stage rocket, which is the launch vehicle used to get the Dragon capsule into orbit for International Space Station supply runs. The first generation Falcon is currently being mothballed as development of the Falcon v1.1 is finishing up. The new Falcon variant has more thrust, and it’s over twice as tall at 224 feet. This rocket will be the heart of Grasshopper v1.1. The new test bed could start flying later this year, assuming the new engine configuration of the Falcon v1.1 checks out.last_img

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