An artist’s concept of the Grasshopper in action. Image Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX’s Grasshopper’s Small Hop is a Big Step

By Amy Teitel

Last week, SpaceX took the first step in its quest to build a reusable launch vehicle. The goal is to create a rocket that can autonomously return to the launch site and land vertically on dry ground. Refurbishing and reusing a rocket stage is much more cost efficient than rebuilding a new stage for each launch. The prototype vehicle that demonstrated the technology behind this idea is called Grasshopper, and it’s made its maiden voyage.

The 106 foot tall Grasshopper, so called because of its spindly insect-like legs, is a vertical takeoff and landing test vehicle (VTVL). It’s made of a modified Falcon 9 first stage with a Merlin 1D engine. The Merlin 1D, which burns kerosene and liquid oxygen and can generate up to 147,000 pounds of thrust, is an upgraded version of the Merlin 1C that generate 78,000 pounds of thrust at sea level.
Read more: SpaceX’s Grasshopper’s Small Hop is a Big Step « AmericaSpace

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