More than two months after its last test flight, the SpaceX Grasshopper is at it again. The reusable rocket prototype launched off its launchpad in Texas and reached a new record height of 1,066 feet (325 meters) before slowly and safely returning to its launchpad. To compare the new height, that’s higher than the Chrysler building in New York.
Previously, the Grasshopper launched to 250 meters in the air, which was quite impressive at the time, but as more and more test launches occur, we’ll see the Grasshopper reach a new height each and every time hopefully until it can reach space and return safely back to Earth, landing in the same position as when it originally took off.
The SpaceX Grasshopper is a 10-story-tall rocket that takes off vertically and lands vertically as well. It’s made from a Falcon 9 rocket with a Merlin 1D engine, and four landing legs make up the bottom of the rocket. These legs have hydraulic dampers which cushion the landing a bit. Plus, the Grasshopper can withstand the intense heat of re-entry without burning up, so that it can be used again.
SpaceX is taking things rather slowly and cautiously with the Grasshopper, but just under a year ago, the rocket was only able to hover a few feet above the ground for a few seconds, so it’s certainly come a long way in a short amount of time. However, the only thing holding the Grasshopper back is mainly the computer system and the software that keeps the rocket upright and allows it to land vertically.
Seeing the rocket hover over the land at over 1,000 feet in the air is pretty surreal, and this latest video was shot at one continuous angle so that way you know there’s no funny business going (not that there would be anyway, but it’s something that’s seriously mind-boggling to see).