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Grasshopper Completes Half-Mile Flight in Last Test

On Monday, October 7th, Grasshopper completed its highest leap to date, rising to 744m altitude, hovering and returning back to the launch pad.  The test lasted 78.8 seconds and was conducted at SpaceX’s rocket development facility in McGregor, TX.  The video is filmed from a single camera hexacopter drone, getting closer to the stage than in any previous flight.

Grasshopper is a 10-story Vertical Takeoff Vertical Landing (VTVL) vehicle designed to test the technologies needed to return a rocket back to Earth intact. While most rockets are designed to burn up on atmosphere reentry, SpaceX rockets are being designed not only to withstand reentry, but also to return to the launch pad for a vertical landing. The Grasshopper VTVL vehicle represents a critical step towards this goal.

Grasshopper consists of a Falcon 9 rocket first stage tank, Merlin 1D engine, four steel and aluminum landing legs with hydraulic dampers, and a steel support structure.

This was the last scheduled test for the Grasshopper rig; next up will be low altitude tests of the Falcon 9 Reusable (F9R) development vehicle in Texas followed by high altitude testing in New Mexico.

During the most recent Falcon 9 flight, SpaceX successfully initiated two engine relights of the rocket’s first stage and recovered portions of the stage after atmospheric reentry. Along with the Grasshopper tests, this further informs our efforts toward achieving full recovery of the Falcon 9 first stage.