SpaceX Grasshopper Divert Test Stunning
By Space Coast Daily // August 21, 2013
ABOVE VIDEO: On August 13th, the Falcon 9 test rig (code name Grasshopper) completed a divert test, flying to a 250m altitude with a 100m lateral maneuver before returning to the center of the pad. The test demonstrated the vehicle’s ability to perform more aggressive steering maneuvers than have been attempted in previous flights. Grasshopper is taller than a 10 story building, which makes the control problem particularly challenging. Diverts like this are an important part of the trajectory in order to land the rocket precisely back at the launch site after reentering from space at hypersonic velocity.
Grasshopper is an experimental technology-demonstrator, suborbital reusable launch vehicle (RLV), a vertical takeoff, vertical landing (VTVL) rocket, built to support development and test of a subset of the technologies required for the SpaceX reusable rocket launching system.
Grasshopper was announced in 2011 and began low-altitude, low-velocity hover/landing testing in 2012. A second Grasshopper test vehicle, larger and more capable, is currently being built and will be used for testing at higher altitudes and supersonic speeds.
Grasshopper is being developed and tested by Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) in order to assist development of the reusable Falcon 9 and reusable Falcon Heavy rockets, which will require vertical landings of the near-empty Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy first-stage booster tanks and engine assemblies.
Grasshopper is one element of the multi-element SpaceX reusable rocket launching system test program, a program that includes both low-altitude, low-speed testing of the Grasshopper vehicle at the SpaceX Texas test site, as well as high-altitude, high-speed controlled-descent tests of post-mission (spent) Falcon 9 booster stages on Falcon 9 commercial missions beginning in mid-2013.