Tag Archives: Grasshopper

The next test flight of a version of SpaceX’s Grasshopper could occur in New Mexico in December.

The next test flight of a version of SpaceX’s Grasshopper could occur in New Mexico in December.

The story says this test will be with Grasshopper, but I think that is a mistake. Unless SpaceX is using this name for all its vertical landing test vehicles, the company had said the test vehicle to fly in New Mexico would be a full scale Falcon 9 first stage, with nine Merlin engines, not one as has Grasshopper.

SpaceX is moving its Grasshopper test program to New Mexico’s spaceport.

SpaceX is moving its Grasshopper test program to New Mexico’s spaceport.

The move confirms big plans for the test bed. Flights to date have been conducted at SpaceX’s engine test site in McGregor, Texas. SpaceX received a waiver from the FAA to fly Grasshopper up to 11,500ft from McGregor, but Spaceport America is an FAA-certified spaceport where no where no waivers are required. “Spaceport America offers us the physical and regulatory landscape needed to complete the next phase of Grasshopper testing,” says SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell.

Elon Musk confirms that on future Falcon 9 launches they will do tests of a powered return of the first stage.

The competition heats up: Elon Musk confirms that on future Falcon 9 launches they will do tests of a powered return of the first stage.

For the upcoming flight, after stage separation the first stage booster will do a burn to slow it down and then a second burn just before it reaches the water. In subsequent flights they will continue these over-water tests. He repeatedly emphasized that he expects several failures before they learn how to do it right. If all goes well with the over-water tests, they will fly back to launch site and land propulsively. He expects this could happen by mid-2014.

These tests are an extension of the Grasshopper tests, only this time they will take place during an actual launch.

Grasshopper flies again, but even higher.

The competition heats up: Grasshopper flies again, but even higher.

SpaceX’s Grasshopper doubled its highest leap to date to rise 24 stories or 80.1 meters (262.8 feet) today, hovering for approximately 34 seconds and landing safely using closed loop thrust vector and throttle control. Grasshopper touched down with its most accurate precision thus far on the centermost part of the launch pad. At touchdown, the thrust to weight ratio of the vehicle was greater than one, proving a key landing algorithm for Falcon 9.

SpaceX’s Grasshopper rocket successfully did a vertical take off and landing to a height of 130 feet last week.

SpaceX’s Grasshopper rocket successfully did a vertical take off and landing to a height of 130 feet last week. With video.

This is very cool engineering, but I remain skeptical any first stage rocket could carry enough fuel to both return to Earth vertically and also provide its payload enough thrust to get into orbit.