In a divert test on August 13, SpaceX’s vertical-landing Grasshopper tried out its first lateral move. With a degree of control difficult to believe, the Grasshopper titled just enough to move 100 m off to the side of the launchpad before reversing the maneuver to land precisely on its liftoff point.

According to SpaceX: Grasshopper is taller than a ten story building, which makes the control problem particularly challenging. Diverts like this are 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.

The Grasshopper is the first credible attempt to make a reusable heavy launch vehicle. Success could dramatically change the cost of doing business in space, making commercialization efforts much more feasible due to reduced launch costs.

Read more at, but watch the video here!


About the author

Merryl Azriel

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Having wandered into professional writing and editing after a decade in engineering, science, and management, Merryl now enjoys reintegrating the dichotomy by bringing space technology and policy within reach of an interested public. After three years as Space Safety Magazine’s Managing Editor, Merryl semi-retired to Visiting Contributor and manager of the campaign to bring the International Space Station collaboration to the attention of the Nobel Peace Prize committee. She keeps her pencil sharp as Proposal Manager for U.S. government contractor CSRA.

One Response

  1. Gabriel

    This is amazing! Such a shame the camera didn’t zoom out a little so we could the movement relative to the ground. Missed opportunity there.

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