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SpaceX’s Grasshopper Reusable Launch Vehicle Could Make Getting To Space Cheaper

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Private space exploration company SpaceX is one step closer to building the world’s first reusable launch vehicle. The company has developed a series of rockets that they hope will one day help cut the cost for civilian space travel. SpaceX has released a video showcasing their Grasshopper Vertical Take Off and Landing Vehicle, check it out below.

The rocket reached heights of 40 meters (130 feet), where it hovered for a few seconds and then returned to the launch pad without a hiccup. The launch in the video was the third successful test conducted by SpaceX. It took place on December 17th at the company’s rocket development facility in McGregor, Texas. The first two tests also saw positive results, including heights of two meters (six feet) and 5.4 meters (17.7 feet).

The Grasshopper rocket is equipped with a Merlin 1D engine, four steel landing legs with hydraulic dampers, and a steel support structure. SpaceX hopes to pair the Grasshopper with its Falcon 9 heavy launcher, which the company hopes to use for future space exploration and tourism missions.

A few months ago, SpaceX announced ambitious plans to attempt to one day colonize Mars. They have recently secured their first military contract to provide the U.S. Air Force with Falcon 9 rockets to launch the Deep Space Climate Observatory. SpaceX will also use their Falcon 9 rockets to deliver cargo to the International Space Station for NASA.

SpaceX is quickly becoming the first name in the privatization of space exploration and tourism. The company’s CEO, Elon Musk, was once called “the Henry Ford of aerospace.” Musk is also the CEO of the electric car company, Tesla Motors, whose Model S was named Motor Trend’s “Car of the Year” of 2013.

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