Outside of a science fiction movie, it’s a little strange to see a rocket fire up its engines, blast off, and then hover in the air.
But that’s exactly what Hawthorne rocket maker SpaceX pulled off with its 10-story Grasshopper test vehicle.
In a 29-second flight, the rocket burst into the sky, rose 131 feet, hovered and landed safely on the pad using thrust vector and throttle control. To cushion its fall back to the launchpad, the Grasshopper has steel landing legs with hydraulic dampers, and a steel support structure. Video of the test was released late Sunday.
SpaceX, short for Space Exploration Technologies Corp., is trying to prove out the Grasshopper’s technology to develop what would be the first-ever fully reusable rocket — the Holy Grail in rocketry.