SpaceX's reusable Grasshopper rocket is growing up. And up and up and up. It just set a new record for height, hovering at over 325 metres — higher than London's the Shard — and hovering there, before coming back down and landing on its launchpad safely.
The Grasshopper itself is a 10-story Vertical Takeoff, Vertical Landing rocket. It's made from "a Falcon 9 rocket first stage tank, Merlin 1D engine, four steel and aluminium landing legs with hydraulic dampers, and a steel support structure." Unlike other rockets that are designed to burn up on re-entry, the Grasshopper can withstand the heat, and be used for further launches.
The previous record had been 250 metres, and the very first flight was a mere 3 seconds at 2m, just this past September. The big bottleneck is mostly a software issue, jiggering flight and landing algorithms, which were used for the first time this flight.
If you're wondering how our brat grandkids are going to commute to their moon spas, it will probably look a lot like this. [YouTube]