Space Exploration Technologies’ prototype reusable rocket, Grasshopper, reached its highest altitude yet, soaring a half-mile into the sky before landing itself back on the ground.
The company, also known as SpaceX, this week posted a spectacular video of the test flight from a radio-controlled hovering hexacopter, which took place on Oct. 7 from McGregor, Texas.
Grasshopper is part of SpaceX’s ongoing effort to develop rockets that can be returned, refurbished and reflown, a long-time goal of company founder Elon Musk.
Last month, an upgraded Falcon 9 rocket on its debut flight attempted to restart its engines to slow its fall back to Earth before splashing down into the ocean.
The test wasn’t successful, but it did provide enough data to resolve remaining engineering issues, Musk told reporters.
“We now believe we have all the pieces of the puzzle,” Musk said, adding that he expects another demonstration flight during a Falcon 9 mission next year.
Grasshopper consists of a Falcon 9 first stage with a single Merlin 1D engine, landing legs and a support structure. SpaceX is building a larger version of Grasshopper that will be outfitted with nine engines, like the Falcon 9 rockets.
Testing is slated to move to new site at Spaceport America in New Mexico.
Grasshopper previously reached a height of 820 feet, a flight that also included a sideways maneuver of about 330 feet.
Video credit: SpaceX