SpaceX's Grasshopper Just Blew Our Minds With Its Latest Launch

Elon Musk's next rocket project flies sideways, and then lands back on its launch pad.

Yesterday SpaceX's Grasshopper experimental rocket pulled off its most stunning flight test maneuver yet, one that for almost any other rocket would have been the herald of disaster. It took off from its launch pad, then leaned over dramatically as it rocketed some 300 feet off to one side as it hovered at a mere 750 feet in the air. Then it corrected itself, flew back to its initial trajectory, and landed daintily on the concrete pad.

Grasshopper is a testbed for SpaceX's future rocket designs, and this week's test is perhaps the best demonstration yet of its amazing powers. Unlike other traditional rockets, which burn out in stages as they fly their payloads into space and are typically discarded as one-use technology, Grasshopped is more like a Space Shuttle: After it's flown into space, it's designed to be reused.

Remember that Grasshopper is as tall as a 10-story building, and then compare it to this recent Russian rocket-gone-sideways accident to see why the new test is impressive:

[Image via SpaceX]

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8 Comments

  • Anthony Reardon

    The SpaceX test is impressive. I wonder though if this is the most efficient design for a landing system. Birds can streamline too, and then deploy an opposite set of aerodynamic characteristics for landing. They are a model of efficiency, as well versatility, and redundancy in terms of safety.

    As far as the Russian clip, reminds me of the brutal humor of corporate motive and technology gone bad in Robo-Cop.

    Best, Anthony

  • N6ZAY

    this is old teck  the DC-X single stage to orbit concept  that mac donaled dougles  mac-dac before boing tock them over

  • Davidstibbe

    Having read most of the Tom Swift kids books followed by all of Robert Heinlein's during my youth I now believe the beginning of an era of space travel, intelligent robots and other super cool things is actually going to begin within my lifetime.  You're one awesome dude Mr Musk.  Just no Terminator please.