SpaceX Grasshopper Beats Its Own Record

Four months ago, privately owned space launch company SpaceX lofted its experimental "Grasshopper" vertical takeoff-and-landing rocket 263 feet into the air -- doubling its previous record -- before safely returning it to Earth under its own power. The latest test made that last feat look easy.

In a video posted Friday on YouTube, SpaceX shows its latest Grasshopper demo rocketing an astounding 1,066 feet, bobbling briefly as its gyros adjusted, and then safely lowering itself back down onto its launch pad. The test happened June 14. In other words, in just three months' time, SpaceX increased the height to which Grasshopper can hop by more than four times.

In an explanation of the details of the test flight, SpaceX notes that the latest test utilized "closed loop control flight algorithms" in conjunction with the spacecraft's "full navigation sensor suite ... adding a new level of accuracy in sensing the distance between Grasshopper and the ground, enabling a more precise landing."

SpaceX is the third of PayPal founder Elon Musk's big tech companies, which include solar power lessor SolarCity and electric-car maker Tesla Motors. It's also the only one said to be currently profitable and the only one Musk has not yet floated in a public IPO.

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  • Report this Comment On July 08, 2013, at 10:40 AM, starcraftre wrote:

    While there's nothing technically wrong with what you said, you missed the April test where they went up to 820 feet (250 meters). They tripled their previous best in just 1 month, and this new flight was more to test new sensors than to beat the old test.

    It's under the video titled "Grasshopper 250m Test | Ring of Fire"

  • Report this Comment On July 08, 2013, at 10:46 AM, TMFDitty wrote:

    Yes, I missed that. Thanks. SpaceX usually announces these on its Facebook feed, but I didn't see that one in April.

    Here's the link for anyone interested:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NoxiK7K28PU

  • Report this Comment On July 08, 2013, at 2:14 PM, FooLawson wrote:

    Yes, absolutely for Elon Musk; great leader with innovative thinking,

    I will be looking for it's IPO

  • Report this Comment On July 12, 2013, at 1:09 PM, bennydtown wrote:

    Your reference to Solar City as one of Musks' companies is a bit misleading. He is the chairman and largest shareholder, but he's repeatedly stressed that he's not running that company.

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