SpaceX Grasshopper takes a leap into a 'ring of fire'

Mar 12, 2013 by Nancy Atkinson
The SpaceX Grasshopper during its test flight on March 7, 2013. Credit: SpaceX

Last week, SpaceX's Grasshopper took its highest leap ever, doubling its past flights. On March 7, 2013, the vertical and takeoff and landing (VTVL) vehicle, rose 24 stories or 80.1 meters (262.8 feet), hovered for approximately 34 seconds and then landed safely – and more accurately than ever before. The goal of Grasshopper is to eventually create a reusable first stage for SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket, which would be able to land safely instead of falling back into the ocean and not being usable again.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk revealed this video this weekend during the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin, Texas, calling the 's flight a "Johnny Cash Hover Slam," since the video includes Cash's iconic song, "Ring of Fire." A cowboy dummy was strapped to the side of the rocket for good measure (and perhaps good luck, since the previous test fight included the cowboy).

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

The test was completed at 's rocket development facility in McGregor, Texas.

This is Grasshopper's fourth in a series of test flights, with each test demonstrating exponential increases in altitude. Last September, Grasshopper flew to 2.5 meters (8.2 feet), in November, it flew to 5.4 meters (17.7 feet) and in December, it flew to 40 meters (131 feet).

Grasshopper stands 10 stories tall and consists of a 9 rocket first stage tank, Merlin 1D engine, four steel and aluminum landing legs with hydraulic dampers, and a steel support structure.

Explore further: Image: Saturn's sponge-like moon Hyperion

Related Stories

SpaceX signs 1st customer for big new rocket

May 29, 2012

(AP) — Space Exploration Technologies says it has signed its first commercial contract for a new rocket that will be more powerful than the one that launched the company's Dragon capsule to the International Space Station ...

Key facts about SpaceX

May 22, 2012

Space Exploration Technologies is the first private company to attempt to send its own cargo capsule to the International Space Station and back.

Recommended for you

The weird ways fire behaves in space (w/ Video)

27 minutes ago

Light a match on earth and you can expect the flame to shoot up in a tapering bulb. But light that match in space and you might not even recognize the small, blue orb at the tip. That's because fire behaves ...

Liquid crystal bubble OASIS in space

15 hours ago

No matter how beautiful or crystal clear the bubbling waters of an oasis may be, they seldom lead to technology breakthroughs. Yet, NASA's OASIS investigation's bubbles may lead to an ocean of new improvements ...

Zapping away space junk

Apr 27, 2015

Planet Earth is surrounded. Thousands of tons of dangerous space debris circle in low orbit, threatening serious damage, even death, if any were to strike the International Space Station. A proposal by a ...

User comments : 5

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

axemaster
5 / 5 (3) Mar 12, 2013
Hilarious, and extremely impressive. I assume they're using thrust vectoring?
jwillis84
5 / 5 (1) Mar 12, 2013

That is so cool.

What's the exhaust off to the side of the Venturi? I assume its the turbine exhaust, but would like to know for sure.
Shootist
4.2 / 5 (5) Mar 12, 2013
Straight up and down. Just like God and Robert Heinlein intended.
baudrunner
5 / 5 (2) Mar 12, 2013
According to their site, SpaceX designed the Dragon spacecraft to one day transport crewmembers to and from space. An animation shows how they intend to return them to the surface. It's really quite impressive, as they are experimenting with Grasshopper to prove that their method actually works. Outstanding. Continued success to SpaceX.
deatopmg
1 / 5 (1) Mar 13, 2013
I love the number of significant digits used to describe the distances traveled!

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.