SpaceX Is Testing a Reusable Falcon 9 Rocket, Which Can Land Back on Earth

The rocket would significantly lower the cost of putting stuff into space

By on June 6th, 2013 20:01 GMT

If there's one thing that SpaceX does well that’s pushing ahead innovation while also making money. The Dragon spacecraft is now making regular resupply trips to the ISS, earning the space startup quite a bit of money in the process.

Meanwhile, the company is working on several advanced or experimental projects in parallel. There's the next-generation Dragon capsule, a larger version of the Falcon 9 rocket, and the more experimental stuff, like the reusable Grasshopper rocket.

Things move fast too; while the Grasshopper barely lifted from the ground a few months ago, it's now soaring high above before landing under its own power.

Over the weekend, the company tested one of its most recent experimental vehicles, a new version of the Falcon 9 rocket, dubbed Falcon 9-R, where "R" stands for reusable.

The test didn't involve a flight, as the engines were only fired for 10 seconds while the rocket was held down.

This new version of the rocket is designed to land safely back to Earth after it carries its payload into the upper atmosphere.

Falcon 9-R uses the thrusters and technology used by Grasshopper to accomplish this. But, whereas the Grasshopper uses just one Merlin 1D, the Falcon 9 uses nine, hence the name.

There are a few more tests to be run, including a full three-minute firing, but the Falcon 9-R should be taking flight soon enough.

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