Elon Musk’s SpaceX is doing some incredible things with its Falcon 9 test rig, codenamed “Grasshopper.” Last month, we saw it launch 325m into the air, stall and seemingly float in midair, and then land back on its launch pad. It was truly an amazing sight to see.
Now, Grasshopper is hopping – to the side.
SpaceX just posted a video of what they call a “divert test,” which is basically a lateral movement. Grasshopper moves about 100m to the side, moves back, and once again lands perfectly.
Here’s what SpaceX had to say about the test:
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 ten 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.
Latest rocket test flight: hard lateral deviation, stabilize & hover, rapid descent back to pad http://t.co/Vb7ebiMdNJ
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 14, 2013
About the aforementioned Grasshopper video that debuted last month. Let’s go ahead and watch it again.