A SpaceX spacecraft, formally known as the Grasshopper Vertical Take Off and Landing Vehicle, lived up to its name in a recent test flight, the video of which was just released.
The Grasshopper craft, powered by a Falcon 9 rocket and Merlin1D engine, took off, rose 131 feet, hovered a bit and landed vertically, all in one piece. SpaceX aims to provide a space vehicle vehicle that can launch, fly, land, and then turn around to do that all over again. One of the backbreaking expenses of space programs is that so much of the sophisticated equipment cannot be reused. A more sustainable model would have to mimic commercial flights where vehicles are used over and over again.
The video, shot in McGregor, Texas, shows the latest December 17 test flight. Previously, the Grasshopper flew 6 feet in September and 17.7 feet in November. SpaceX, helmed by CEO Elon Musk, said it plans more and more complicated test flights over the next few months.