SpaceX Grasshopper blasts to new heights in fifth test (video)
The fifth and latest test launch of SpaceX's Grasshopper continues a recent trend of exponential altitude gains, reaching a height of 250 meters (820 feet) earlier this week. This was more than three times the altitude achieved in its March test.
In turn, that flight doubled the altitude of 40 m reached in December. Before that, the VTVL vehicle (which stands for vertical takeoff, vertical landing) achieved a pair of hops only a few meters from the ground.
Grasshopper is a part of SpaceX's ongoing efforts to build a reusable rocket system. It is comprised of a first-stage tank from a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, one Merlin-1D engine (to a regular Falcon's nine), and four steel landing legs.
On Twitter, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk suggested conditions were less than perfect. "Grasshopper rocket flies up 250m, holds against wind and lands," he wrote, adding (as one would if one had one), "Vid taken from our hexacopter."
See our December coverage for more details of the Grasshopper, or alternatively, watch the launch video below. Warning: Grasshopper-followers will have heard the sound track before.