SpaceX Hovers, Steers 10-Story Rocket (with Video)

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The 10-story "Grasshopper" rocket created by SpaceX was successfully flown to hover on August 13, and then returned to land on its launch platform after executing a lateral maneuver, the company said Wednesday. The test carried the rocket to an altitude of 250 meters and incorporated a lateral shift of 100 meters. The Grasshopper rocket is being built as a reusable outer space delivery system that will travel out of the earth's atmosphere, reach hypersonic speeds and then return to land on its launchpad. Previous tests of the Grasshopper have flown to higher altitudes but have not demonstrated the same degree of lateral control.

SpaceX has successfully flown two cargo resupply missions to the International Space Station and remains the only commercial operator to have done so. The reusable system represented by the Grasshopper rocket system could lead to considerable cost savings. The company has been performing tests of the Grasshopper over the past several months.