SpaceX Grasshopper vertical takeoff and landing vehicle goes for a little hop

SpaceX Grasshopper vertical takeoff and landing vehicle goes for a little hop
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SpaceX's Falcon rocket has proven that it can fly, and now the private space transport company's Grasshopper is proving that it can hop. The vertical takeoff and landing test vehicle is part of a reusable first stage for Falcon 9 that's being developed by SpaceX to cut down on the cost of missions to space. On Friday, the Grasshopper took its first tiny test flight.

While it's a bit hard to see with all the smoke and debris from the blast in the way, the below video from SpaceX shows the Grasshopper, which consists of a Falcon 9 rocket, a Merlin-1D engine, four steel landing legs, and a steel support structure, taking a 6-foot high hop.

SpaceX says the next goal for the Grasshopper is to be able to hover at roughly 100 feet sometime in the next several months.

Meanwhile, SpaceX is planning a launch on October 5 for the first contracted cargo resupply flight to the International Space Station.

Watch in the video just before the the blast of smoke covers the camera for the Grasshopper leaping upward:

Source: SpaceX

Grasshopper Takes Its First Hop / 9-21-12

We may well be watching the birth of a new space era. If Spacex can get this to work, and judging by their past achievements it has a good chance, access to space will become much much cheaper.
Derek Howe
This was a small hop for Space X, but a huge leap for mankind.
Andrew Kubicki
Seems the most dangerous part of rocket launching is getting to a momentum of 1 meter per second while pointing in the right direction. HEAPS of energy is used to just get that far. Something that your own rocket engines doesn't have to do.
Getting to this point with the aid of a mechanical mechanism (that stays on the ground once done) that ensures alignment as well as momentum seems a practical (and less expensive approach). Leaving fuel needs to cater for "after 1 mps in the direction you want to go" issue.
Gen Has
Right On Andrew, A Magnetic flux catapult could do that up to a 1 Meter per second easily ! And Mega Large Mfd Capacitors charged over a few days very easily cheaply as well ! Why NASA has not been doing this in Florida 40 years ago has always been a mystery to me. I built multi-linked Mag Flux rail guns for myself in the 60's that shot right thru coffee cans so I know it can be done by a hobbyist. Staged with simple photo electric triggers as my steel bullet passed by each solenoid coil it was passing through. Was able to get it up to 2850' per second with a bank of capacitors that was only 3' X 3' at 3500 volts. Charged in a few minutes. I believed in it so much I wrote a paper and sent it to NASA. No response at all. Mechanical Mechanism on the ground is the way to go that also is Cheap to Recharge and Use Over and Over.
So Andrew I think your on the right Track ! GH