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SpaceX Grasshopper Sets Record

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#1 Centaur

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Posted 22 April 2013 - 10:02 PM

The SpaceX Grasshopper rocket has now set a new record of 250 m (820 ft) in the air before reversing for a landing: http://www.youtube.c...eature=youtu.be

#2 David Knisely

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 03:05 AM

This thing just keeps getting better and better! I kept wanting to say, "KEEP GOING!" as it reached full altitude, but I guess they wanted to land the thing and not drop a stage on anyone :). Congrats to SpaceX for another fine achievement.

#3 Centaur

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 09:50 AM

This thing just keeps getting better and better! I kept wanting to say, "KEEP GOING!" as it reached full altitude, but I guess they wanted to land the thing and not drop a stage on anyone :). Congrats to SpaceX for another fine achievement.


It's similar to the way rockets landed in old sci-fi films. Private firm SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has become the embodiment of Tom Swift. I found the link to the video in a Musk tweet. He is a Johnny Cash fan, hence the music. Some viewers think the video is fake. If it were, the smoke during landing would be moving toward the rocket.

Musk founded and later sold PayPal. He is also the CEO of Tesla Motors and the chairman of SolarCity, both publicly owned. The stock prices of those two are at all-time records today. At the bottom of my website homepage you will find a National Geographic YouTube video describing the design and assembly of a Tesla Model S with many comments from Musk: www.CurtRenz.com

#4 rockethead26

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 09:59 AM

Wow! Just Wow!!!

#5 StarmanDan

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 12:01 PM

While very cool, I wonder why Elon is perusing this method of recovery. Seems to me a powered vertical landing system is much riskier than other forms of recovery. What happens when the decent stage gives out 100 feet from touchdown? Why not parachute the ascent stage down? It could even be GPS controlled and landed in a large, man made lake as opposed to the open ocean.

#6 Centaur

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 12:14 PM

While very cool, I wonder why Elon is perusing this method of recovery.


A rocket is far more costly than its fuel. When the government totally managed spaceflight, the contractors had no motivation to be cost efficient. In fact the more costly the project, the more money the government handed them. Hence rockets were expendable. Now competing private firms must consider costs. So SpaceX is developing a way to reuse rockets.

Here's a link to a February interview in which Musk discusses all three of his current companies. While showing a clip of an earlier Grasshopper launch, he explains how cost effectiveness is the motivation behind the project: http://www.ted.com/t...olarcity.htm...

#7 Mary B

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 12:42 PM

That gave me goosebumps, similar to the early Mercury launches. New and unproven

#8 Jim7728

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 01:03 PM

This quote answered my question where they were going with this project.

For those who haven't been following the progress of this project in more detail, the word is that after a few more tests like this from McGregor, Texas, they will have a new test rocket, based on the taller and more capable Falcon 9 1.1. It will have new, retractable landing gear, and will be tested going up to nearly 60 miles up. The tests will be performed at White Sands, so as not to interfere with airline traffic and for public safety in general. In parallel with all this, the company has said they will be doing some tests with the live boosters starting this summer. That is, when the first stage of a Falcon launch is done with its real work (starting a satellite on its way), and has separated from the second stage, it will retro-fire for a bit so it doesn't descend quite so destructively as it has in the past, and then fire again before hitting the ocean. The initial goal is to have it hover and "land" on the sea, with the final goal being to have it return to the launch site (or close to it) and land on a prepared pad. Fun stuff!

I'd love to see the day a Falcon 9.1.1 rocket descends 60 miles from space. :cool:

#9 deSitter

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 01:06 PM

What use is this?

-drl

#10 Centaur

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 01:25 PM

What use is this?


See my previous post.

#11 David Knisely

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 04:13 PM

While very cool, I wonder why Elon is perusing this method of recovery. Seems to me a powered vertical landing system is much riskier than other forms of recovery. What happens when the decent stage gives out 100 feet from touchdown? Why not parachute the ascent stage down? It could even be GPS controlled and landed in a large, man made lake as opposed to the open ocean.


I think they tried this but the aerodynamic loads on the stage caused it to break up before it could deploy the chutes and splash down in the ocean. I had the idea of enclosing the internal hardware of the Falcon 9's first stage inside a space shuttle solid rocket booster casing. Then, they could use exactly the same recovery system that the SRB's did without the expense of having to clean out the casing and re-fuel it. Still, bringing it back under its own power to land vertically is an intriguing idea (and I hope he gets it to work). Clear skies to you.

#12 David Knisely

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 04:17 PM

What use is this?

-drl


The Grasshopper is a "test bed" vehicle (basically the first stage of the Falcon 9 with a set of landing legs attached at the base and only one Merlin 1D engine for power). It is being used to investigate techniques which could be used to bring a modified Falcon 9 first stage back under its own rocket power to an area near its launch site after the first stage has separated from the rocket's second stage. The first stage could then land vertically on deployable landing legs and be refurbished for later use. Much of the cost of spaceflight is the hardware that is thrown away after each launch, so re-usability could really bring that cost down. This is SpaceX's eventual goal. Even the 2nd stage has a plan for its re-use after it releases its payload. Clear skies to you.

#13 llanitedave

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 09:16 PM

When I first started thinking about the concept, it didn't make much sense to me. But then I realized that they don't have to power the rocket all the way down. Atmospheric drag will slow it down to a fairly manageable terminal velocity, even without parachutes. The rocket body will also be very light, because it will be nearly empty of fuel, so terminal velocity should be less than that of a plummeting human. At that point, they only have to null somewhere between 100 and 200 m/s velocity. They can do it by firing only their center engine for a short time.

The hard part will be terminal guidance. And that still seems very hard.

#14 contrailmaker

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Posted 24 April 2013 - 12:09 PM

As an aeronautical engineering student back in the 1980s that is the kind of stuff we all hoped to get to do after graduation. Space X is doing some amazing things. I hope their concept works. Their focus is on robust hardware that can be reused. That has proven a very elusive goal but it is one that is essential for expanding the commercial uses of space.

cm

#15 Ira

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Posted 24 April 2013 - 01:24 PM

That was really cool. Looked fake - like an animation. Are you sure it wasn't?

Also, reminded me of Lunar Lander on the GT40. Anyone remember that?

/Ira

#16 Centaur

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Posted 24 April 2013 - 02:09 PM

That was really cool. Looked fake - like an animation. Are you sure it wasn't?


As I noted earlier, if it were fake, the smoke during landing would be moving toward the rocket. I got the video link from a tweet by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. In the responses to the tweet it is learned that someone in Texas witnessed the flight on Friday afternoon.

#17 David Knisely

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Posted 24 April 2013 - 03:19 PM

That was really cool. Looked fake - like an animation. Are you sure it wasn't?

Also, reminded me of Lunar Lander on the GT40. Anyone remember that?

/Ira


Huh?? It didn't look even remotely like a fake to me. With that kind of altitude, anyone within five miles of the place would have seen (and heard) the Grasshopper. The local news source in McGregor, Texas also announced on April 3rd that there would be a test soon before the last flight, so why fake it if they already said they were going to do it?

#18 Centaur

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Posted 24 April 2013 - 03:54 PM

Huh?? It didn't look even remotely like a fake to me.


Other folks thought similarly to Ira. The "Ring of Fire" song may have added to the confusion. It's a good thing the music wasn't "Yakety Sax" http://www.youtube.c...h?v=j1cVm3nCJ3A or more people might have have thought the launch was fake.

#19 llanitedave

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Posted 24 April 2013 - 08:00 PM

Not my favorite song, but it sure works for that video!

#20 keithccr

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Posted 25 April 2013 - 06:07 AM

I think the reason it looks fake is that normally rockets don't do that... if they come down again, then they go BOOM! rather than land upright.

Very impressive.

Keith.

#21 Ira

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Posted 25 April 2013 - 07:03 AM

It's more than just that. The whole scene looks uber real, too real to be real. Also the angle it was shot at adds to the sense of "animation". It was partially shot from above. How'd they do that?

/Ira

#22 Centaur

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Posted 25 April 2013 - 08:50 AM

It's more than just that. The whole scene looks uber real, too real to be real. Also the angle it was shot at adds to the sense of "animation". It was partially shot from above. How'd they do that?


The camera was on a hexacopter, which is a tiny remote controlled helicopter: http://hexacopters.com

#23 deSitter

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Posted 25 April 2013 - 09:51 AM

The shadow lines of the rocket and the water tower should, and do, intersect on the horizon. That's near certain proof that this is real. It's just good video :)

I still do not understand what good will come of such a vehicle.

-drl

#24 Centaur

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Posted 25 April 2013 - 10:50 AM

I still do not understand what good will come of such a vehicle.


Did you read what I wrote in my third post in this thread?

#25 llanitedave

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Posted 25 April 2013 - 02:17 PM


I still do not understand what good will come of such a vehicle.


Did you read what I wrote in my third post in this thread?


It's a pretty simple concept. As Musk said, "You don't throw away a brand new 747 after every flight."






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