Latest test of SpaceX Grasshopper adds a twist
[Via Ars Technica]
Grasshopper’s baby steps keep getting bigger.
The latest test of the SpaceX vertical takeoff and landing rocket prototype didn’t take it any higher than it went on the last two flights, but it added a degree of difficulty that could impress even the most disapproving Russian judge. The 32-meter-tall rocket ascended 250 meters while also travelling 100 meters laterally away from the launch pad before maneuvering back and setting itself gently down on the pad. This is the first test flight to include a lateral component.
The vertical landing technology is being developed to make the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets rapidly reusable. After doing its portion of the heavy lifting, the first stage of the rocket would bring itself right back to the launch pad rather than splashing down in the ocean and awaiting recovery. The second stage would do the same after placing the payload in orbit, a preferable outcome to letting it burn up on reentry.
Here is the video:
Every rocket from the classic age of science fiction landed like that. Amazing.