SpaceX Grasshopper 12 story test flight
December 25, 2012
SpaceX’s Grasshopper — a 10-story vertical takeoff and landing (VTVL) vehicle — took a 12-story leap towards full and rapid rocket reusability in a test flight conducted December 17, 2012 at SpaceX’s rocket development facility in McGregor, Texas.
Grasshopper rose 131 feet (40 meters), hovered, and landed safely on the pad, using closed-loop thrust vector and throttle control. The total test duration was 29 seconds.
Grasshopper consists of a Falcon 9 rocket first stage, Merlin 1D engine, four steel landing legs with hydraulic dampers, and a steel support structure.
If it passes testing, Grasshopper would be the first-ever fully reusable rocket — the Holy Grail in rocketry. It could mean big savings in developing and operating the rocket.
The 12-story flight marks a significant increase over the height and length of hover of Grasshopper’s previous test flights, which took place earlier this fall. In September, Grasshopper flew to 1.8 meters (6 feet), and in November, it flew to 5.4 meters (17.7 feet/2 stories) including a brief hover.
Testing of Grasshopper will continue with successively more sophisticated flights expected over the next several months.
Video Source: SpaceX