Feeds

Rocket 'Grasshopper' leaps higher than tall building in single bound

Balancing on a roaring needle of FIRE

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Elon Musk's private space program jumped another 40 meters just before Christmas, with the VTVL "Grasshopper" rocket successfully lifting more than its own length into the air and safely setting down again.

The test follows one from September which involved lifting a few feet, and a November test of a couple of meters, but SpaceX has now upped the ante both technically and visually as the rocket balances on its own needle of flame before carefully lowering itself down on the pad.

The Grasshopper uses a Merlin 1D engine, which is fitted in a cluster of nine in the first stage of the Falcon 9 space launcher, and if the tests continue to succeed the idea is that such first stages will be able to pilot themselves back to earth rather than being ditched into the sea as currently happens.

NASA used to maintain two sea-going ships, Freedom and Liberty, just to manage the recovery of Shuttle boosters, and that's before one starts to think about the effect of seawater on reusable components, so flying them back would save a good deal of money.

But SpaceX has even bigger aspirations for its balancing-on-a-needle-of-fire trick, as a landing technique replacing splashdown for crewed capsules, but it’s a tricky thing to carry off: which explains the careful stepping up in the height of each hop as confidence grows. ®

The Power of One Infographic

More from The Register

next story
World Solar Challenge contender claims new speed record
One charge sees Sunswift travel 500kms at over 100 km/h
SMELL YOU LATER, LOSERS – Dumbo tells rats, dogs... humans
Junk in the trunk? That's what people have
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
Jurassic squawk: Dinos were Earth's early FEATHERED friends
Boffins research: Ancient dinos may all have had 'potential' fluff
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.