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SpaceX Grasshopper Tries a New Trick

Upstart space-exploration company SpaceX marked yet another "first" this week.

Barely a month after launching its Grasshopper experimental rocketship 1,066 feet straight up into the air, then bringing it back down to earth safely, SpaceX tried a shorter hop this past Tuesday -- and videotaped it for you to watch on YouTube.

What the video shows is the Falcon 9 test rocket, which SpaceX has dubbed the "Grasshopper," rocketing up 820 feet into the air, and also sidling 328 feet off to the side -- then again, returning to its starting point.

SpaceX called this week's test flight a "divert test," referring to the fact that Grasshopper moved along both the y axis and x axis before returning to point 0,0 on its launch pad. The "more aggressive steering maneuvers" involved in this route, said the company, is "an important part of the trajectory in order to land the rocket precisely back at the launch site after reentering from space at hypersonic velocity."

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