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Centaur
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SpaceX Grasshopper Sets Record
      #5816532 - 04/22/13 11:02 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.com/watch?v=NoxiK7K28PU&feature=youtu.be

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David Knisely
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Re: SpaceX Grasshopper Sets Record new [Re: Centaur]
      #5816821 - 04/23/13 04:05 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.

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Centaur
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Re: SpaceX Grasshopper Sets Record new [Re: David Knisely]
      #5817174 - 04/23/13 10:50 AM

Quote:

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


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rockethead26
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Re: SpaceX Grasshopper Sets Record new [Re: Centaur]
      #5817190 - 04/23/13 10:59 AM

Wow! Just Wow!!!

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StarmanDan
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Re: SpaceX Grasshopper Sets Record new [Re: rockethead26]
      #5817417 - 04/23/13 01:01 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.

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Centaur
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Re: SpaceX Grasshopper Sets Record new [Re: StarmanDan]
      #5817456 - 04/23/13 01:14 PM

Quote:

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/talks/elon_musk_the_mind_behind_tesla_spacex_solarcity.htm...


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Mary B
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Re: SpaceX Grasshopper Sets Record new [Re: Centaur]
      #5817519 - 04/23/13 01:42 PM

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

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Jim7728
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Re: SpaceX Grasshopper Sets Record new [Re: StarmanDan]
      #5817570 - 04/23/13 02:03 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.


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deSitter
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Re: SpaceX Grasshopper Sets Record new [Re: Jim7728]
      #5817580 - 04/23/13 02:06 PM

What use is this?

-drl


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Centaur
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Re: SpaceX Grasshopper Sets Record new [Re: deSitter]
      #5817659 - 04/23/13 02:25 PM

Quote:

What use is this?





See my previous post.


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David Knisely
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Re: SpaceX Grasshopper Sets Record new [Re: StarmanDan]
      #5818011 - 04/23/13 05:13 PM

Quote:

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.


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David Knisely
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Re: SpaceX Grasshopper Sets Record new [Re: deSitter]
      #5818018 - 04/23/13 05:17 PM

Quote:

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.


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Re: SpaceX Grasshopper Sets Record new [Re: David Knisely]
      #5818761 - 04/23/13 10:16 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.


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contrailmaker
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Re: SpaceX Grasshopper Sets Record new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5819769 - 04/24/13 01:09 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


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Ira
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Re: SpaceX Grasshopper Sets Record new [Re: contrailmaker]
      #5819917 - 04/24/13 02:24 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


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Centaur
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Re: SpaceX Grasshopper Sets Record new [Re: Ira]
      #5820002 - 04/24/13 03:09 PM

Quote:

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.


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David Knisely
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Re: SpaceX Grasshopper Sets Record new [Re: Ira]
      #5820154 - 04/24/13 04:19 PM

Quote:

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?


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Centaur
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Re: SpaceX Grasshopper Sets Record new [Re: David Knisely]
      #5820229 - 04/24/13 04:54 PM

Quote:


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.com/watch?v=j1cVm3nCJ3A or more people might have have thought the launch was fake.


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llanitedave
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Re: SpaceX Grasshopper Sets Record new [Re: Centaur]
      #5820817 - 04/24/13 09:00 PM

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

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keithccr
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Re: SpaceX Grasshopper Sets Record new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5821368 - 04/25/13 07:07 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.


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Ira
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Re: SpaceX Grasshopper Sets Record new [Re: keithccr]
      #5821433 - 04/25/13 08:03 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


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Centaur
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Re: SpaceX Grasshopper Sets Record new [Re: Ira]
      #5821662 - 04/25/13 09:50 AM

Quote:

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


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deSitter
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Re: SpaceX Grasshopper Sets Record new [Re: Centaur]
      #5821775 - 04/25/13 10:51 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


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Centaur
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Re: SpaceX Grasshopper Sets Record new [Re: deSitter]
      #5821887 - 04/25/13 11:50 AM

Quote:


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?


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llanitedave
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Re: SpaceX Grasshopper Sets Record new [Re: Centaur]
      #5822411 - 04/25/13 03:17 PM

Quote:

Quote:


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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Ira
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Re: SpaceX Grasshopper Sets Record new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5823043 - 04/25/13 08:40 PM

I think Danny doesn't believe we're going anywhere soon.

/Ira


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seryddwr
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Re: SpaceX Grasshopper Sets Record new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5823439 - 04/26/13 12:25 AM

Quote:

Quote:

Quote:


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."



Wait... You mean I've been doing it wrong all this time?! I'd better cancel my next 20 orders with Boeing.


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David Knisely
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Re: SpaceX Grasshopper Sets Record new [Re: deSitter]
      #5823512 - 04/26/13 02:09 AM

deSitter posted:

Quote:

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




Uh, like maybe figuring out how to re-use a costly booster by seeing if you can fly it back to the launch site? What is so hard to understand about that?

"The 60's weren't good to you, were they?" (Sarge from the movie CARS)


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Shadowalker
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Re: SpaceX Grasshopper Sets Record new [Re: David Knisely]
      #5823584 - 04/26/13 04:36 AM

The obvious disadvantage is that having the booster land under its own power requires propellant that won't be available to lift the payload. However, there is usually extra margin for most payloads. Also, the returning booster hasn't all the mass of the upper stage and payload and the spent propellant to lift. I haven't run any numbers, but I'd make a SWAG that returning to launch site or other recovery area would need about 15 to 20% of the propellant.

A tradeoff. Sacrifice some payload mass to recover a 150 million dollar booster? Worth it, I'd say.


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Centaur
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Re: SpaceX Grasshopper Sets Record new [Re: Shadowalker]
      #5824021 - 04/26/13 10:29 AM

Quote:

The obvious disadvantage is that having the booster land under its own power requires propellant that won't be available to lift the payload. However, there is usually extra margin for most payloads. Also, the returning booster hasn't all the mass of the upper stage and payload and the spent propellant to lift. I haven't run any numbers, but I'd make a SWAG that returning to launch site or other recovery area would need about 15 to 20% of the propellant.

A tradeoff. Sacrifice some payload mass to recover a 150 million dollar booster? Worth it, I'd say.




Of course gravity and not thrusting does the lowering, while atmospheric friction slows a falling object to its terminal velocity. For a person that is about 120 mph, and I imagine less for a nearly empty rocket. So the braking thruster only needs to become activated near the end of the descent.


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Re: SpaceX Grasshopper Sets Record new [Re: Centaur]
      #5824053 - 04/26/13 10:37 AM

From the video, I suspect it will need to be thrusting continuously to maintain attitude control. I think if it cut thrust completely and fell at terminal velocity it would probably start tumbling, then resuming controlled thrust would be difficult.

Maybe in combination with some drag chutes or something...

It was impressive how it maintained balance on top of just a single engine.

Jarad


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llanitedave
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Re: SpaceX Grasshopper Sets Record new [Re: Shadowalker]
      #5826244 - 04/27/13 12:42 PM

Quote:

The obvious disadvantage is that having the booster land under its own power requires propellant that won't be available to lift the payload. However, there is usually extra margin for most payloads. Also, the returning booster hasn't all the mass of the upper stage and payload and the spent propellant to lift. I haven't run any numbers, but I'd make a SWAG that returning to launch site or other recovery area would need about 15 to 20% of the propellant.

A tradeoff. Sacrifice some payload mass to recover a 150 million dollar booster? Worth it, I'd say.




I think what I'm reading is that they're looking at about a 40% performance hit for re-usability, but I think that includes the second stage as well. If each stage can be re-used 10 or more times with a minimum of refurbishment (gas and go, more like an airliner than the Space Shuttle), that will lead to a huge reduction in launch costs.

And if they have a customer that absolutely requires maximum payload capacity, then they can use an end-of-life stage for that particular launch and expend it. They can charge a premium for that flight while still undercutting the expendable-only competition.


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llanitedave
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Re: SpaceX Grasshopper Sets Record new [Re: Jarad]
      #5826248 - 04/27/13 12:44 PM

Quote:

From the video, I suspect it will need to be thrusting continuously to maintain attitude control. I think if it cut thrust completely and fell at terminal velocity it would probably start tumbling, then resuming controlled thrust would be difficult.

Maybe in combination with some drag chutes or something...

It was impressive how it maintained balance on top of just a single engine.

Jarad




I believe the re-usable booster will have cold gas thrusters at the top for stability control.


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GlennLeDrew
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Re: SpaceX Grasshopper Sets Record new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5837963 - 05/03/13 10:05 AM

Might not gyroscopes be installed in any recoverable stage so as to control, or facilitate control of attitude?

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llanitedave
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Re: SpaceX Grasshopper Sets Record new [Re: GlennLeDrew]
      #5838013 - 05/03/13 10:31 AM

Each stage would have to have its own avionics system.

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Jarad
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Re: SpaceX Grasshopper Sets Record new [Re: GlennLeDrew]
      #5838023 - 05/03/13 10:33 AM

I'm sure they have gyroscopes, but the gyro's usually just measure the attitude, you still need thrusters or something to control it.

I couldn't see any thrusters at the top in the video, but they could have been there and just not visible compared to the brightness of the main thruster. I just assumed that they were controlling it with fine adjustments to the main thruster, but I don't actually know that to be the case... Maybe one of the JPL guys knows?

Jarad


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Re: SpaceX Grasshopper Sets Record new [Re: Jarad]
      #5838036 - 05/03/13 10:37 AM

From what I understand the current Grasshopper has no thrusters, its attitude control comes only from engine gimbaling. Grasshopper 2 will need them, because it will experiment with shutting off and relighting its engine during free fall.

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Ravenous
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Re: SpaceX Grasshopper Sets Record new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5838262 - 05/03/13 12:23 PM

Aerodynamic braking for a part-empty rocket stage with the engines shut down... that would be an interesting problem. There would probably be a quarter or so of the fuel sloshing around in the tanks, the off-centre weight would make attitude control tricky, unless they either use a big drogue chute or a "don't care" attitude.

Having said that perhaps the stage return and landing could be done with an extra, central, fuel & oxidiser tank. Extra complexity but would allow a separate pressurisation system as well as better control of balance.

Not saying aero braking is what they plan to use (because I don't know) but it's an interesting idea, and an interesting problem...


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Whichwayisnorth
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Re: SpaceX Grasshopper Sets Record new [Re: Ravenous]
      #5843848 - 05/06/13 03:43 PM

You folks are acting like they don't already know what they are doing and how they are going to do it. This isn't just "hey wouldn't it be cool if" and "lets do some experiments to see if". This is "we are doing this so step aside".

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Jarad
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Re: SpaceX Grasshopper Sets Record new [Re: Whichwayisnorth]
      #5843908 - 05/06/13 04:19 PM

And this is us speculating about how they are planning to do it.

We don't expect them to listen to us or change what they are doing, but it's both fun for us to speculate about it, and occasionally some of the guys who are rocket scientists read this and enlighten us about what they are actually doing.

As for the "let's do some experiments to see if", the video in the OP was one of those experiments. The rest of the thread is us speculating about what's next in their plan, and how it would be used in a real launch.

As far as stepping aside, we're already standing on the side, we're just cheering them on.

Jarad


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Re: SpaceX Grasshopper Sets Record new [Re: Jarad]
      #5844248 - 05/06/13 07:20 PM

If they knew exactly how they were going to do it, they wouldn't need to be doing all this testing. Elon Musk has already said that they expect to fail several times before they get a successful recovery. They have a working model of how it should be done, but SpaceX is in a learning mode too, and it's fun to share the suspense with them.

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