SpaceX Developing Reusable Launcher



SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket (Credits: Spacex).

Draft Environmental Assessment for Issuing an Experimental Permit to SpaceX for Operation of the Grasshopper Vehicle at the McGregor Test Site,Texas, published by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), discloses some details over SpaceX planned reusable rocket, the Grasshopper.


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 (COPVs), which are filled with either nitrogen or helium, are attached to the support structure. The Merlin- 1D engine has a maximum thrust of 122,000 pounds. The overall height of the Grasshopper RLV is 106 feet, and the tank height is 85 feet.”

Post-flight activities include Grasshopper RLV landing and safing. During a nominal launch, the vehicle would land on the launch pad. Safing activities would begin upon completion of all launch and landing activities and engine shutdown. The LOX oxidizer system would be purged, and the fuel lines would be drained into a suitable container. Any remaining pressurants (i.e., helium or nitrogen) would be vented prior to declaring the Grasshopper RLV safe and moving the vehicle to its transport vehicle and staging area. A ground crew would perform and supervise all pre-flight, flight, and landing operations and would be familiar with the operating protocol for the specific launch.



About the author

Andrea Gini

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Andrea Gini is a content strategy consultant specialized in companies of the space sector. He is founder of Space Safety Magazine, where he held the position of Editor-in-Chief until March 2015. Between 2011 and 2013 he worked in the European Space Agency in the Independent Safety Office, which overviews the utilization of the International Space Station. He previously worked as Software Developer, IT Consultant, and trainer of Java-related technologies. Andrea holds a BSc and an MSc in computer science from the University of Milano, a Master in Communication of Science from the International School for Advanced Studies of Trieste and a MSc in Space Studies from the International Space University.

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