Monday, March 11, 2013

SpaceX Grasshopper--A New High!

SpaceX has continued, beyond its efforts in getting cargo to the ISS with its Dragon launch vehicles, to develop its Grasshopper vertical take off and landing rocket.  They've been taking it nice and slow with each little hop getting higher and higher.  This past week's launch took the Grasshopper up to some 263 feet, performed a brief hover and then returned to its launching pad without a hiccup or wobble.

The article states that SpaceX is developing the Grasshopper in order to reduce launch costs BUT that reusable launch vehicles have often been MORE expensive than disposable ones due to the extra protection/weight that is required.  To me this is a false argument as all prior reusable vehicles have been developed on the premise of an extremely fast reentry necessitating all the additional heat shielding and either glider or capsule reentry design.  With a VTOL launch vehicle you reduce the reentry speed to zero and eliminate all the extra gear needed for the friction protection.  Its a new model of launch and reuse, time to rethink basic assumptions.

SpaceX Grasshopper launch...

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