A Sideways Grass-Hop

SpaceX’s ‘Grasshopper’ rocket has accomplished a number of feats throughout its test flights and now a different type of accomplishment has been added to the roster: going sideways.

The Grasshopper rocket successfully performed its sideways hop on Tuesday August 13 at SpaceX’s grounds in McGregor, Texas. A video of the hop was released on Wednesday August 14.

During the test flight, the Grasshopper rocket reached an altitude of 820 feet, then went into hover mode, moving 328 feet sideways. From that point, it descended and returned to the center of its launch pad. The flight lasted just over one minute. The Grasshopper rocket, officially known as the Falcon 9 test rig, is almost 10 stories tall, which presents a challenge in terms of sideways maneuvers. In a statement, SpaceX officials commended “the vehicle’s ability to perform more aggressive steering maneuvers than have been attempted in previous flights.”

“Diverts liks this are an important part of the trajectory in order to land the rocket precisely back at the launch site after re-entering from space at hypersonic velocity,” SpaceX officials said.

With reusable space vehicles like the Grasshopper rocket, SpaceX hopes to create a fleet of completely reusable rocket vehicles. If successful, the project would make space flight cheaper and more efficient, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said.

Stay tuned for more test flights involving the Grasshopper rocket. In June, the rocket reached its highest altitude so far, rising 1,066 feet in the air.

You can watch a video of the rocket’s sideways hop below.


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