Video: SpaceX Grasshopper Makes Lateral Leap

Rocket project moves closer to its goal of returning humans to space.

Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX completed an impressive precision flight on Tuesday with the Falcon 9 rocket, also called the Grasshopper. In what SpaceX referred to as a divert test, the rocket climbed to an altitude of about 800 feet, then moved about 300 feet laterally before making a picture perfect landing at the center of its launch pad.

“The test demonstrated the vehicle’s ability to perform more aggressive steering maneuvers than have been attempted in previous flights,” SpaceX said in a statement.

The company said this type of maneuvering is critical for making precision landings after the rocket returns to earth from space at hypersonic velocity. The Falcon 9 has already completed several missions to space, delivering goods to the International Space Station, but the Grasshopper will be the first version of the 224-foot-long rocket to be reusable.

The Grasshopper was also designed to return humans into space along with the Dragon spaceship, also created by SpaceX. The company is led by CEO and chief designer Elon Musk, who successfully brought the all-electric Tesla to market and recently announced a potential new ground transportation concept called Hyperloop.

A video of the recent Grasshopper flight can be seen here:

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