Science

SpaceX Grasshopper Breaks New Record (Video)

By Pierre Dumont , Apr 23, 2013 12:09 PM EDT

The SpaceX Grasshopper flew 820 feet into the air on Monday April 22, tripling the height achieved on its most recent test flight.

The launch was the Grasshopper's fifth test flight for SpaceX, each demonstrating increased achievements in altitude level. In September, Grasshopper reached 8.2 feet, followed by 17.7 feet in November, 131 feet in December and 262.8 feet in March.

"Grasshopper rocket flies up 250m, holds against wind and lands," SpaceX founder Elon Musk tweeted. "Vid taken from our hexacopter."

SpaceX developed the Grasshopper as a Vertical Takeoff Vertical Landing (VTVL) vehicle to test the waters of sending a rocket back to Earth in one piece. This stands in contrast to most rockets, which burn up as they re-enter Earth's atmosphere. The SpaceX Grasshopper rocket stands at 10 stories tall and features the Falcon 9 rocket first stage tank, the Merlin 1D engine, a steel support structure and four steel and aluminum legs with hydraulic dampers for landing.

SpaceX is involved in a number of projects, including a 12-mission supply contract with NASA for the International Space Station. The SpaceX Dragon capsule survived a glitch to successfully dock at the station on March 3, providing supplies to crew members on board. The capsule crashed back into the Pacific on March 26.

SpaceX has also been working on the next-generation rocket engine, the Merlin 1D, which the company announced will likely be used to power a commercial space flight this summer. Unlike the Merlin 1C engine, which has 110,000 pounds of thrust, the 1D packs 147,000 pounds. It is already featured in the Grasshopper rocket.

You can watch a video of the Grasshopper launch below.

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