The plan is to have the rocket eventually rise a few kms and then land back on its own
SpaceX is flying high these days, but it's not resting on its laurels. With the Dragon home safely after its first commercial mission to the ISS, SpaceX continues tests and experiments of its future technology.One very interesting piece of kit is the Grasshopper, a reusable first stage for its Falcon 9 rocket.
It's still very experimental, but the rocket would be able to take off, push its payload a few kilometers/miles into the atmosphere and then land back on its launchpad all on its own.
It's not quite there yet, in fact, the latest test flight is the highest so far, barely a few meters off the ground, if that, but it's a big improvement over the first little hop of just 2 meters or 6 feet.
Mind you, the Grasshopper is 10-story tall, 32 meters or 106 feet so these first flights look very small.