We were hugely impressed last December when Grasshopper, the reusable rocket from SpaceX, traveled 130 feet into the air and returned to land back on its launch pad in one piece. It goes without saying then, that this video of the Grasshopper rising to 1,066 feet (325 meters), holding against the wind and returning to the ground is well worth your time.
The airborne angle of the footage — which was shot by a hexacopter — illustrates the sheer height of the rocket’s most significant hover yet.
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The latest happened June 14 but the video was published yesterday. The latest in a regular series of flights, it illustrates just how far the rocket has come since its maiden test in September, when it successfully rose to 6 feet (2 meters) before landing.
The Grasshopper is made from Falcon 9 rocket parts and a Merlin engine, and it includes aluminium landing legs. The June hover is particularly notable because it used an additional sensor — with a greater level of accuracy than those on regular rockets — to help land the rocket from its highest position yet.
Grasshopper is a prototype that SpaceX hopes will one day lead to reusable rockets replacing the existing ‘throw away’ type. It isn’t clear when that day will be, but the company is aiming to pioneer a new kind of craft to reduce the cost of space travel as it aims to open it to civilians.
SpaceX founder Elon Musk previously said that moving a family to Mars could cost $500,000 by 2029, and reusable rockets represent a key part of his plans.
Headline image via jurvetson / Flickr