Now we know that this isn’t always the case, but most of the time, it still holds true. However, aside from helicopters, not many vehicles can lift off and land in exactly the same spot.
And now, joining a small group of rockets able to accomplish this, we have Grasshopper.
An experimental launch platform developed by SpaceX, Grasshoppers 1.0 and 1.1 are the latest additions to the Vertical Takeoff, Vertical Landing (VTVL) class of rockets, intended for service as a reusable launch system.
Grasshopper 1.0, revealed in September 2011, stands at 106′ tall and includes a first stage tank from one of their Falcon 9 rockets and a complex multi-legged base which houses additional hardware needed for flight operations, and has already completed several test flights.
The updated Grasshopper 1.1, at 160′, will include folding legs and a larger, updated Falcon 9 first stage fuel tank. With flight testing scheduled to begin between October 2013 and February 2014, Grasshopper 1.1 is expcted to reach testing altitudes of up to 300,000 feet.
With the successful testing to date of Grasshopper 1.0 and testing on 1.1 to begin soon, SpaceX has announced intentions to gradually increase both speed and altitude during successive flights.
When brought into full operation, the Grasshopper platform will open new doors in rapid-turnaround flight opportunities, bringing commercial spaceflight closer and closer to being as commonplace as airline flight is today.