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NASA's hovering lander looked beautiful at yesterday's test-launch

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NASA's Morpheus Lander hovers above the launch pad at NASA's Kennedy Space Center at a free-flight test launch held yesterday afternoon. Hit the jump to see the photo (and video of the launch) in its full glory.


According the NASA, the vehicle carried out its pre-planned flight trajectory flawlessly, executing a 15-meter ascent, hovering, and executing a 7.5-meter lateral translation before landing within six-inches of its intended target. The 54-second test – which you can watch in the video below – is the first in a series of flights that NASA says "will increase in altitude, distance & speed over the next few months."

Morpheus may not have the hops of SpaceX's Grasshopper (at least not yet), but it's still plenty impressive; vertical takeoff/vertical landing vehicles could save private and government space projects boatloads of cash by making rockets reusable, and they're damn photogenic, to boot. That's what I call a win-win.