In their continued efforts to revolutionize human spaceflight, Elon Musk's SpaceX Corporation has been working on a new rocket that promises to not only make space launches quicker and less expensive, but also reduce the amount of junk we add to what's floating around our planet.
The SpaceX Grasshopper is a reusable, 'vertical takeoff vertical landing' (VTVL) rocket that brings back memories of the old black-and-white sci-fi movies. The rocket has already had several tests so far, and it's an amazing sight to see as it lifts off from the launch pad, hovers in place or slips from side to side, and then rockets back down to land again on the launch platform.
The latest test, with the rocket reaching up to 744 metres above the ground, took place last Monday (Oct 7th), and SpaceX released this video of the test:
The ultimate goal of the Grasshopper design is allow SpaceX to launch the rocket into orbit, where it will deploy its payload — whether that's one or more satellite, an automated cargo delivery, or a crewed spaceflight to the International Space Station — and then reenter the atmosphere and land again at the launch facility. SpaceX says that the rocket will be able to do this multiple times per day, and each rocket will be able to fly tens of thousands of missions in its lifetime.
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Since the company's Dragon spacecraft is already completely reusable, once they've achieved their goal of getting Grasshopper into orbit and safely back on the ground afterward, it will be an incredible boon for the spaceflight industry. Launching satellites and missions into Earth orbit will be much more affordable, allowing more companies and researchers to get in on the game, while keeping the amount of space junk we add to low-Earth orbit to a minimum.
Keep up the great work, SpaceX!
(Image and video courtesy: SpaceX Corporation)
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