SpaceX Grasshopper Takes Off and Lands Vertically in New 12-Story Hop

SpaceX recently released video of the latest test of their Grasshopper Vertical Take Off and Landing Vehicle, where it rose 40 meters (131 feet), hovered and landed safely on the pad using closed loop thrust vector and throttle control.

The test flight took place on December 17, 2012 at SpaceX’s rocket development facility in McGregor, Texas. The goal of Grasshopper is to eventually create a reusable first stage for SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, which would be able to land safely instead of falling back into the ocean and not being usable again.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk Tweeted that they strapped a 6-ft (2 meter) cowboy dummy to the side of the rocket “to provide a little perspective on the size of Grasshopper.”

See the pictures below:

SpaceX said the total test duration was 29 seconds. Grasshopper stands 10 stories tall and consists of a Falcon 9 rocket first stage, Merlin 1D engine, four steel landing legs with hydraulic dampers, and a steel support structure.

Cowboy dummy riding on the SpaceX Grasshopper. Via Elon Musk

“Cowboy riding the rocket no problemo,” Tweeted Elon Musk

Artist’s rendering of the SpaceX Grasshopper’s vertical landing. Credit: SpaceX

Nancy Atkinson

Nancy has been with Universe Today since 2004, and has published over 6,000 articles on space exploration, astronomy, science and technology. She is the author of two books: "Eight Years to the Moon: the History of the Apollo Missions," (2019) which shares the stories of 60 engineers and scientists who worked behind the scenes to make landing on the Moon possible; and "Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos" (2016) tells the stories of those who work on NASA's robotic missions to explore the Solar System and beyond. Follow Nancy on Twitter at and and Instagram at and

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