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SpaceXs Grasshopper performs a lateral steering maneuver for the first time

first_imgSpaceX has been carrying out test launches of its Grasshopper Vertical Takeoff Vertical Landing (VTVL) vehicle since September of last year. The ultimate goal being to create a rocket that can be launched and eventually land again after a mission, intact and therefore capable of being used again.So far those test launches have just seen the Grasshopper stay vertical and reach ever greater heights. The highest it has reached so far is 325 meters, which was achieved last month. However, SpaceX needs Grasshopper to do more than go straight up and come straight back down again. They also need to be able to move it laterally in a so-called divert maneuver, and yesterday they managed to do that successfully for the first time.In the video above Grasshopper launches and proceeds to achieve an altitude of 250 meters. At that point it maintains its height, but then performs a 100 meter lateral movement. The vehicle then proceeds to descend and manages to make a perfect landing back on the launch pad. This is an important feature for Grasshopper to get right, as it will allow the vehicle to always hit its landing pad.If you consider that Grasshopper is over 10 stories tall you can see why maintaining control during such a maneuver is so impressive, especially if you take into account any kind of wind that would be in play at those heights.This is just the first step, though, and SpaceX is determined to move forward with more aggressive steering maneuvers. Not only will that allow Grasshopper to carry out more difficult landings, but it’s also going to give us some great videos to watch over the coming year or two.Here’s the test from last month that saw Grasshopper achieve a height of 325 meters before performing another great landing:last_img read more