SpaceX’s ground-breaking rocket, the Grasshopper, is still in development, but it’s designed to be reusable, meaning that it takes off and lands vertically.
The rocket made its first trip in September 2012, after it traveled 2 meters up before landing safely. In November, it went up 32 meters and landed safely. This time, it traveled up 40 meters before landing safely yet again.
The Grasshopper RLV consists of a Falcon 9 Stage 1 tank, a Merlin-1D engine, four steel landing legs, and a steel support structure. Carbon-overwrapped pressure vessels are filled with nitrogen or helium, and attached to the support structure. The Merlin-1D engine has a maximum thrust of 122,000 pounds. It’s 32 meters high, and the tank height is 26 m. It uses highly refined kerosene fuel as a propellant and liquid oxygen as the oxidizer.
The Grasshopper would have a reusable first stage for its Falcon 9 rocket, which would be able to land safely instead of falling into the ocean as debris and not being used again. Phase 3 tests will have the goal of increasingly higher altitudes with higher ascent speed and descent speeds. The altitude test sequence would be 366 m, 762 m, 1,524 m, 2,286 m, and 3,505 m, which is 11,500 feet. The maximum test duration would be about 160 seconds. If all goes according to plan, the Grasshopper would land back on its launch pad.
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