SpaceX’s Cowboy-Carrying Rocket Flies to 131 Feet, Hovers and Lands

Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by cobra commando, Dec 28, 2012.

  1. cobra commando

    cobra commando Tharki regiment Veteran Member Senior Member

    Oct 3, 2009
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    Last week was the 109th anniversary of the Wright brothers’ first flight, and SpaceX celebrated in style with the highest launch of its Grasshopper test rocket to date. The flight took place at the company’s McGregor, Texas test facility, and at 131 feet is practically the vertical rocket version of Orville’s first flight that covered 120 feet on December 17, 1903 (the SpaceX flight was a nice, round metric jump of 40 meters).

    This was the third flight for the Grasshopper, a test vehicle SpaceX is using to develop a fully controllable and reusable first-stage launch vehicle for future trips to orbit and beyond. The previous two flights made it to 6 feet and 18 feet, respectively.

    During the latest test hop, the Grasshopper also had a passenger. SpaceX founder Elon Musk tweeted that a cowboy mannequin was on board providing a sense of scale (he can be seen at the bottom of the fuselage on the right side).


    The test flight lasted 29 seconds and included approximately 8 seconds of hovering time at the apex before returning back to the launch pad. There was a small amount of lateral drift as the rocket ascended, and it appears most of this drift was corrected on the descent.

    The Grasshopper consists of a Falcon 9 first stage fuselage with a Merlin 1D engine, and also has a set of four external, hydraulically dampened landing legs added to the base of the fuselage to aid in the touchdown.

    Currently the Falcon 9 first stage falls into the ocean after it’s finished boosting the second stage and Dragon spacecraft much of the way towards orbit. Musk believes one of the keys to further reducing the cost of space launches is to make more of the launch vehicle reusable. If the Grasshopper testing and development is successful, SpaceX aims to have the first stage of a Falcon 9 rocket use a few of the nine Merlin engines on board to steer it back to the launch site and then use the engines to slow it down for a precision landing similar to the video above


    SpaceX's Cowboy-Carrying Rocket Flies to 131 Feet, Hovers and Lands | Autopia |
    W.G.Ewald likes this.

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