Space & Innovation

SpaceX Grasshopper Rocket Takes Giant Leap: Photos

On April 19, SpaceX carried out the Grasshopper rocket's highest test yet, commanding the prototype to hover at 250 meters altitude. Here are the photographs from this impressive feat.

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On April 19, 2013, the Grasshopper rocket, designed and built by SpaceX, took to the skies over the company's rocket development facility in McGregor, Texas. The rocket climbed to 250 meters (820 feet) where it hovered for a short time and then returned to Earth in a controlled descent.

The prototype rocket, that is being developed to launch payloads into orbit and then return to Earth in a controlled manner, tripled its previous altitude record (80 meters) during the April 19 one-minute test.

During the test, the private spaceflight company used a six-bladed "hexacopter" to fly around the rocket, capturing breathtaking video for further analysis by the team.

The rocket is around 10 stories tall and uses the company's Falcon 9 rocket first stage to accomplish its controlled flight.

Seen standing at the base of the rocket, "Johnny" (a cowboy mannequin) is "keeping things under control" according to the company's Twitter account.

The Grasshopper takes to the blue Texan skies on April 19.

The Grasshopper's single Merlin engine provides the thrust, while the four metallic legs support the rocket during launch and landing.

The Grasshopper hovers at 250 meters altitude. By developing a reusable rocket that can return to Earth under its own power has the potential to transform commercial spaceflight, slashing launch costs.