SpaceX’s Grasshopper Hits 40 Meters in Third Test

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WASHINGTON — Grasshopper, the experimental rocket Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) built to test vertical takeoff and landing technologies, completed its third test flight Dec. 17, the Hawthorne, Calif.-based company announced Dec. 23.

Video of the 29-second test flight shows Grasshopper rising 40 meters above its pad at SpaceX’s McGregor, Texas, test site and hovering briefly before landing safely under the power of the rocket’s single Merlin 1D engine.

Grasshopper’s first flight, in September, flew to 1.8 meters. A November flight reached 5.4 meters and included a brief hover.

SpaceX said Dec. 23 that testing of the 10-story reusable rocket “will continue with successively more sophisticated flights expected over the next several months.”