Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) successfully conducted the first “hop” of its Grasshopper vertical takeoff and landing test vehicle (VTVL) on Sept. 21 at the company’s McGregor test site in Texas. The VTVL is a modified Falcon 9 first stage and forms part of SpaceX’s longer-term ambitions to develop a reusable booster to lower launch costs. The concept will ultimately involve flying the first stage back to the launch site for an autonomous vertical landing. SpaceX says the ...

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