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Published on Sep 24, 2012
On Friday, September 21, 2012 SpaceX's Grasshopper vertical takeoff and landing test vehicle (VTVL) took its first test flight hop from the company's rocket testing facility in McGregor, Texas. The short hop of approximately 6 feet is the first major milestone for Grasshopper, and a critical step toward a reusable first stage for SpaceX's proven Falcon 9 rocket. As seen in the video, Grasshopper consists of a Falcon 9 first stage, a Merlin-1D engine, four steel landing legs, and a steel support structure. SpaceX is working to develop vehicles that are fully and rapidly reusable, a key element to radically reducing cost and increasing the efficiency of spaceflight. Testing of Grasshopper continues, with the next big milestone -- a hover at roughly 100 feet -- expected in the next several months.