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Reusable Rocket Makes Highest Test 'Hop'

RIA Novosti

18:37 15/11/2012

WASHINGTON, November 15 (RIA Novosti) – A prototype of a reusable space rocket has made its highest “hop” yet as part of testing to determine whether it can return from space flight and land back on the ground intact, the specialist website reported Thursday.

In the test, which took place in the US state of Texas on Nov. 1, the “Grasshopper” reusable rocket lifted off its launch pad and rose 17.7 feet (5.4 meters) into the air before gently easing back down to land on the pad, the website said. The test lasted eight seconds.

According to, no complete rocket has ever landed back on earth intact after launching into space. The website noted that while NASA’s space shuttle orbiters were reusable, the solid rocket boosters and external tank that put them into space were not fully recyclable.

The “Grasshopper” reusable rocket prototype consists of two stages and stands 227 feet (70 meters) tall. It is being developed by the private US spaceflight company SpaceX, which says such reusable systems would dramatically reduce costs of space travel.

The rocket’s first test “hop” was conducted on Sept. 21 when it rose about six feet (1.8 meters) into the air. The next test “hop” for the system will take the rocket about 100 feet (33 meters) into the air and is scheduled to take place “soon,” said.

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