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October 14, 2013

SpaceX's Grasshopper Goes Up, Comes Down

by VOA News

What goes up, must come down. And sometimes, the trip back to Earth is just as important as the flight itself.

That’s what SpaceX proved recently when its 10-story Grasshopper rocket flew nearly 744 meters into the air, reversed course and then made a gentle vertical landing on the same launch pad from which it started.

The successful test marks a milestone for the company, which plans to launch reusable rockets.

The flight took place October 7 and demonstrated the feasibility of a concept that could revolutionize space flight by dramatically reducing costs.

For 97 seconds, the Grasshopper rocket was airborne over SpaceX’s McGregor, Texas, facility, the latest in several low-altitude tests. The company plans to ramp up testing at a location in New Mexico at a later date.

SpaceX was founded in 2002 by billionaire Elon Musk. The company makes cargo capsules and rockets at its facility in Hawthorne, California. The company recently carried out a successful resupply mission to the International Space Station.

Here's a video shot by a SpaceX "hexacopter" unmanned aerial vehicle: