Watch: This space rocket blasts off only to return to its launch pad — without exploding

By Eric W. Dolan
Wednesday, July 10, 2013 16:56 EDT
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SpaceX Grasshopper rocket (Screenshot)
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If a standard space rocket blasts off and ends up back at its launch pad, something has gone terrible wrong. That is not the case for SpaceX’s “Grasshopper” rocket, however.

The first-of-its-kind reusable rocket made its highest leap to date last month before gently returning to Earth. Video recently released by the private space company showed the 10-story tall vertical takeoff and landing (VTVL) vehicle blast off to more than 1,000 feet and then slowly descend back to its launching pad in McGregor, Texas.

For the first time, the rocket “made use of its full navigation sensor suite with the F9-R closed loop control flight algorithms to accomplish a precision landing” on its June 14 launch, according to SpaceX. “Previous Grasshopper tests relied on the other rocket sensors but for this test, an additional, higher accuracy sensor was in the control loop.”

SpaceX founder Elon Musk has explained he hopes to revolutionize space travel with the reusable rocket. The rockets used by NASA and other space agencies are currently designed to burn up on reentry to Earth’s atmosphere. A rocket that returned to Earth intact would dramatically reduce the cost of sending things into space.

The ultimate goal of the private space company, according to Musk, is to colonize Mars.

Watch video, uploaded to YouTube, below:

Eric W. Dolan
Eric W. Dolan
Eric W. Dolan has served as an editor for Raw Story since August 2010, and is based out of Sacramento, California. He grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and received a Bachelor of Science from Bradley University. Eric is also the publisher and editor of PsyPost. You can follow him on Twitter @ewdolan.
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