SpaceX Falcon 9 successfully completes 100m lateral maneuver before returning to launchpad
Yesterday SpaceX’s Falcon 9 test rig (code name Grasshopper) successfully completed a 100m lateral maneuver, beginning at an altitude of 250m, before returning to the center of the pad from which it was launched. According to a press release, the test demonstrated the vehicle’s ability to perform more aggressive steering maneuvers than have been attempted in previous flights.
At more than 10 stories tall, controlling the test rig as it moves laterally is particularly challenging. Divert tests such as this one are an important step towards SpaceX’s goal of being able to return rockets safely to earth for reuse.