Watch The Latest Falcon 9R Test Flight... From the Rocket's Perspective

Somebody had the good sense to strap an HD camera to a Falcon 9 Reusable rocket, SpaceX's most powerful Vertical Takeoff/Vertical Landing vehicle. Here's what that camera saw on Tuesday, at the company's latest test launch.


We're pretty pleased with whoever's been tasked with filming SpaceX's test-launches. When the company conducted the first test flight of its Falcon 9R rocket back in April, they chose to film it from a hexacopter hovering near the launch pad. The video was stunning. Now, newly released footage from a test flight on Tuesday lets us watch the rocket launch from the perspective of the rocket, itself (and if history has taught us anything, it's that rocket-cams are always a good idea):

The test launch saw the Falcon 9R soar to a record height of 1,000 feet before returning to the launch pad, and was filmed by a high-definition camera positioned near the top of the 224-foot-tall rocket. According to SpaceX, Tuesday's flight was the company's first test of a set of steerable fins that provide control of the rocket during the fly-back portion of the launch. The fins can be seen deploying, from the perspective of the rocket cam, at the 1:11 mark, and again, in the wide shot, at 3:32:

SpaceX hopes that vertical takeoff/vertical landing (VTVL) vehicles like the Falcon 9R will supersede present launch technologies (like the company's non-reusable version of the Falcon 9, which it currently uses to launch its Dragon capsules into low-Earth orbit, on commercial resupply missions to the International Space Station) in the not-too-distant future – but not before conducting more tests like this one:

Early flights of F9R will take off with legs fixed in the down postion, however we will soon transition to liftoff with legs stowed against the side of the rocket with leg extension just before landing. Future test flights of F9R at our New Mexico facility will include higher altitudes, allow us to prove unpowered guidance and to prove out landing cases that are more flight-like.

Here's hoping more of these test flights are filmed from aboard the launch vehicle. (We wouldn't say no to the return of the hexacopter, either.)





I think I figured out what looks so weird about this video, besides some awesome cows.

That's a full size, 224 foot tall rocket launching in the middle of a field. No launch tower or anything, just a couple of legs. Then it sprouts these teeeeny weeny little fins, and does a nimble little twirl like a pretty ballerina. That's an unseemly amount of agility for such small control surfaces. Seriously, look at them on the wide shot, they're tiny. It's like a magic trick.

I read the Wikipedia article on Grid Fins even, and it still looks impossible.