Elon Musk’s SpaceX has just posted video of a successful F9R launch, their re-usable rocket concept. The shuttle (pronounced “f-niner”, incidentally) is shown taking off, rising to 250 meters, then landing right next to the launch pad. Though this flight took place in Texas, SpaceX hopes moving venues will let them show off a bit more.
The F9R shown here the first of their updated Falcon 9 series, which SpaceX notes is “essentially a Falcon 9 v1.1 first stage with legs”. If you’re wondering where the Grasshopper is, watch the video closely — it’s in the background. The goal with the project is to have a reusable spacecraft, which not only cuts way down on cost — it makes commercial travel plausible.
Future iterations of the F9R should see the rocket test some added usability for extended travel. One of those tweaks has to do with the legs of the ship, which SpaceX adding “we will soon be transitioning to liftoff with legs stowed against the side of the rocket and then extending them just before landing”. Currently testing in Texas, SpaceX says a move to New Mexico will allow them to test at higher altitudes.
If this wasn’t enough, you can check out the Dragon launch later today. SpaceX plans to take their Dragon spacecraft — carrying 4,000 pounds of supplies — and strap it to a Falcon 9 to bring suplies to the International Space Station. Current weather suggests the Dragon is a go for launch, so we’ll look forward to blast off in about an hour.