SpaceX Grasshopper demos take off, hover, and return capabilities

Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX recently completed its second successful berthing with the International Space Station, but the commercial space travel company isn't resting on its laurels. Recently revealed video footage indicates that SpaceX is making rapid progress toward a reusable spacecraft that can take off and land using the same thrusters, much like spacecrafts we've seen in countless science fiction films.

The Grasshopper rocket recently completed its highest takeoff and landing to date, traveling 24 stories (262.8 feet) into the sky, hovering for about 34 seconds, and then successfully landing back on its launch pad. Measuring about 110-feet tall, the Grasshopper rocket consists of a Falcon 9 rocket first stage tank, a Merlin 1D engine, and four landing legs with hydraulic dampers.

To put this latest development in context, during the first test of this rocket back in September of 2012, the Grasshopper only managed to travel 8.2 feet into the sky. Now, just three tests later, the rocket seems poised to touch the edge of space sometime in the next couple of years.

If you look closely you can see a life-sized (about 6-feet tall) cowboy dummy attached to the rocket, giving viewers a sense of scale, as well as showing off the SpaceX team's sense of fun as they push the boundaries of space travel.

You can check out this historic development in space travel technology in the video below.

Via SpaceX

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