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SpaceX Grasshopper Rocket Flies Higher than the Chrysler Building Now

SpaceX's reusable Grasshopper rocket is growing up. And up and up and up. It just set a new record for height, hovering at over 325 meters (1066 feet)—higher than Manhattan's Chrysler Building—and hovering there, before coming back down and landing on its launchpad safely.

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The Grasshopper itself is a 10-story Vertical Takeoff, Vertical Landing rocket. It's made from "a Falcon 9 rocket first stage tank, Merlin 1D engine, four steel and aluminum landing legs with hydraulic dampers, and a steel support structure." Unlike other rockets that are designed to burn up on re-entry, the Grasshopper can withstand the heat, and be used for further launches.

The previous record had been 250 meters, and the very first flight was a mere 3 seconds at six feet, just this past September. The big bottleneck is mostly a software issue, jiggering flight and landing algorithms, which were used for the first time this flight.

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If you're wondering how our brat grandkids are going to commute to their moon spas, it will probably look a lot like this. [YouTube]

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DISCUSSION

MRodneyMcKay
Rodney McKay

When I was a kid, long ago, I was into model rockets. One day I launched one with an engine that was was too small. The rocket rose perhaps five feet, hovered a second, then settled back onto its fins, upright. A few seconds later, the ejection charge kicked the parachute out.

I spent years trying unsuccessfully to recreate that "flight", so the Grasshopper is kind of a dream come true for me.