back to article Elon Musk's Grasshopper tops 300m, lands safely

Elon Musk's Grasshopper rocket has eclipsed the 80-odd metres it managed in March, achieving a “personal best” of around 325 metres and landing successfully, in spite of wind during the test flight. The thousand-foot-mark is a significant milestone for the ten-storey vertical takeoff, vertical landing rocket (VTVL). Getting …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Facepalm

    Merlin engine?

    That name has already been taken and is no longer available.

    How about Merkin engine instead?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Headmaster

      Re: Merlin engine?

      Not quite. The RR Merlin is a piston engine and is no longer in production. The engine used in the grashopper is a rocket and in that context, Merlin is the name used by SpaceX for its range of rocket engines.

      There is no confusion.

      1. Martin Budden Silver badge

        Re: Merlin engine?

        To be fair to Mr Coat, the Merlin engine he mentions was able to power a craft from lift-off and back to landing on the same runway, so there's some similarity ;-)

        1. Robert E A Harvey

          " to power a craft from lift-off and back to landing"

          ...more than once

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Merlin engine?

        Not quite.

        My original comment was meant to be humorous but if you want to get serious then this imposter engine will only earn the name Merlin when it has changed the course of a world war and subsequent history.

        1. NogginTheNog
          WTF?

          Re: Merlin engine?

          Oh ffs! It's JUST an engine - a brilliant piece of engineering and something of which we can be proud yes, but it's still just an engine. I really REALLY don't think you need to get all protective over it!

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Merlin engine?

          @Mc - i did wonder about that but it was the facepalm icon that had me thinking you were serious .. Soz.

      3. Allan George Dyer
        Coat

        Re: Merlin engine?

        There's plenty of room for confusion, the RR Merlin's space-flight capabilities are well known: http://tardis.wikia.com/wiki/Spitfire

        The one with the sonic screwdriver in the pocket. No, I'll leave the fez.

        1. Tim99 Silver badge
          Alien

          Re: Merlin engine?

          @Allan George Dyer

          " ...the RR Merlin's space-flight capabilities are well known..."

          Yes, how about four of them: Picture Link

          1. Dave Bell
            Childcatcher

            Re: Merlin engine?

            I remember the fuss about the original story, but that illustration is thoroughly faked. Look at the date on the newspaper, and the general feel of the design. You can find plenty of pics of the real front page with that story--14th August 1988. It seems to go back to a Russian report of March that year, and the named "scientist" has cropped up as the source of other similarly incredible reports over more than 20 years.

            1. James O'Shea
              Headmaster

              Re: Merlin engine?

              "the named "scientist" has cropped up as the source of other similarly incredible reports over more than 20 years."

              Herr Professor Doktor Zarkov has been the source of many major revelations over almost 70 years. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans_Zarkov>

              <exit, stage right, to the sound of Mercury & May singing 'Flash!">

          2. Shrimpling

            Re: Merlin engine?

            Have you got the rest of the paper? I want to "read" about this Triple Breasted Whore.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Gimp

      Re: Merlin engine?

      >"That name has already been taken and is no longer available."

      Well then - Tim Cook needs to get off his butt and sue somebody!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      If

      If I'd not seen it I'd have thought it was a slow rewind, brilliant is a word that doesn't do it justice.

      But just how may mpg do you get?

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: If

        looks like about 0 as it didn’t get anywhere in the end.

        I think I must have watched too many rocket launches - I was secretly disappointed there want a huge conflagration as there normally is when one of these things comes back too quickly.

      2. C 18
        Trollface

        Re: If

        >But just how may mpg do you get?

        Fecking downloaders, every time they see new technology, their first thought is 'is this a storage solution?'

    4. Bob Merkin
      Happy

      Re: Merlin engine?

      Sounds good to me. I'm not involved in its development, but I'd be flattered if it was named after me.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Brilliant!

    (nothing else)

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can I place an order for my Eagle spacecraft now??

    Spacesuits with flares, the ONLY way to travel.

  4. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    Powered by ARM

    Possibly their smallest customer in terms of units but (probably) one of their most visible.

    You've got to wonder what these new sensors are. Have then gone for higher grade units or have they had to shift their design and use new things. For close range high precision location assisted GPS should be fine, as the approach speeds should be well within the allowed civilian specs. If they're not it's all gone seriously pear shaped.

    Thumbs up for excellent work and I'm really looking forward to their Dragon pad abort test sometime in Sept.

    That should be spectacular

    1. IglooDude

      Re: Powered by ARM

      I'd hope that they wouldn't use GPS, as that'd take away the option of using it on the moon or Mars. Rather, I'd figure they'd use laser rangefinders and a handful of inertial sensors for the necessary precision, and utility in places where we don't have GPS satellites overhead.

    2. BristolBachelor Gold badge

      Re: Powered by ARM

      "For close range high precision location assisted GPS should be fine, as the approach speeds should be well within the allowed civilian specs."

      But don't forget that this is a rocket, and even given the recent talk about loosening the ITAR regs, the rocket still counts as a munition, and there is nothing officially "civilian" about it. If they want to use GPS, they can.

      I am curious about what they are using though. Traditional inertial sensors I have come across would have the required accuracy to find the home location, or the required range of acceleration to control attitude, but I haven't worked with one that has both. However, since they control both the rocket design, and the landing location, I would have thought that dead rekoning of some kind would be OK for the location, and then they only need inertials for attitude control.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Happy

        Re: Powered by ARM

        "I am curious about what they are using though. Traditional inertial sensors I have come across would have the required accuracy to find the home location, or the required range of acceleration to control attitude, but I haven't worked with one that has both. However, since they control both the rocket design, and the landing location, I would have thought that dead rekoning of some kind would be OK for the location, and then they only need inertials for attitude control."

        Depends what you mean by "traditional." A specialist writing in the GEC Journal some years ago said no one had designed a new "spinning metal" gyroscope INS since the mid 80s. IIRC a lot of these sensors come from "Crossbow Technologies." Rather ironically the actual core laser gyros are from Russia.

        People often underestimate the ability of astro nav systems. Specialized telescopes can work in daylight and triangulate to within 6m. NAA Autonetics developed this for the SR71 to run at M3. Later versions were fitted to the B2 and low speed systems are used for continental drift monitoring.

    3. Oninoshiko

      Re: Powered by ARM

      Possibly their smallest customer in terms of units but (probably) one of their most visible.

      no, outside us space-geeks, Apple is FAR more visible (unfortunately).

  5. ScissorHands

    Still someway to go...

    The DC-XA reached 3140 metres...

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Still someway to go...

      "The DC-XA reached 3140 metres..."

      True. It also reached M3.

      However that was a test vehicle. It's aspect ratio was much easier to handle.

      The DC-X programme was remarkable for what it achieved on the budget it was given.

      DC-XA also demonstrated the use of a composite LH2 tank which worked.

      It's tempting to speculate what would have happened if the plug nozzle developed for the AFRL in 1974 by Dr Huang of Rocketdyne had not be seriously damaged and was still available and if the DC-X had been designed to be about 1/2 the weight it was. That might have demonstrated both a full blown plug nozzle at M2 plus and (possibly) close to SSTO in a prototype.

      But since ARFL managed to wreck the engine and NASA the DC-XA we'll never know.

      <sigh>

  6. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Wonderful!

    That's how REAL spaceships are meant to land!

    1. Simon Harris
      Go

      Re: Wonderful!

      That's how the spaceship in Salvage-1 used to take off and land.

      I vote for renaming the Grasshopper to Vulture.

  7. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
    Alien

    Thrust

    This reminds me of the 80's computer game Thrust. All that's needed is a big ball of cargo connected to the thing by a tractor beam.

    But at least whoever was in control of the rocket was better at it than I used to be at the game :)

    Still nice one all round.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Thrust

      Possibly the very nicest version of Thrust if you can find the hardware to run it on:

      http://www.emix8.org/static.php?page=VectrexThrust

      Back in the day I played it a lot on the Beeb. This homage has the physics spot on.

      Oh, and awesome rocket control :-)

  8. jake Silver badge

    Totally useless "technology" "invention".

    We did this on the moon in 1969.

    Elon is nothing, if not a marketard.

    1. auburnman
      Thumb Down

      Re: Totally useless "technology" "invention".

      Moon landing: 1/6th Earth gravity, no atmospheric turbulence to worry about.

      Also Moon lander wasn't 100ft plus tall.

      1. Matthew 25

        Re: Totally useless "technology" "invention".

        Jake does have a bit of a point, if all we've done in 44 years, with the massively more powerful computing resources available to us is make it work on earth with something a bit bigger.

        1. karma mechanic

          Re: Totally useless "technology" "invention".

          "a bit bigger"

          Yes, Lunar Descent Stage had a mass of about ten tonnes, in Lunar gravity a weight of less than two.

          A ten-story rocket is definitely a bit bigger and a lot less stable when balanced on the blunt end.

          1. Real Ale is Best
            Go

            Re: Totally useless "technology" "invention".

            The other difference is that the lunar lander was human controlled, hence the creation of the flying bedstead so the astronauts could practice flying it.

            SpaceX's grasshopper is completely computer controlled. And there's a lot to bed said about only taking small steps to ensure your valuable hardware comes back in one piece so you can have another go!

            1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
              Facepalm

              Re: Totally useless "technology" "invention".

              Next: Invention of the book considered retarded. Mesopotamians could do it in clay THOUSANDS OF YEARS EARLIER using ONLY A CHISEL.

              > "F9-R control algorithms"

              Yeah. Details, NOW!

              1. Pookietoo
                FAIL

                Re: THOUSANDS OF YEARS EARLIER using ONLY A CHISEL

                Clay, yes, thousands of years, yes, but chisel - on a soft lump of clay?

                1. Martin Budden Silver badge

                  Re: THOUSANDS OF YEARS EARLIER using ONLY A CHISEL

                  Clay, yes, thousands of years, yes, but chisel - on a soft lump of clay?

                  A chisel would work really well for making marks on soft clay - you wouldn't even need a hammer ;-)

          2. Roger Varley

            Re: Totally useless "technology" "invention".

            > A ten-story rocket is definitely a bit bigger and a lot less stable when balanced on the blunt end.

            Ok - I'm curious - why doesn't it just topple over?

            1. hplasm
              Boffin

              Re: why doesn't it just topple over?

              Rocket Science.

            2. karma mechanic

              Re: Totally useless "technology" "invention".

              The propulsion is steerable, so it can move the bottom end a bit to keep the top end pointing up. Just like balancing a broomstick on your hand - if you get it right then you can stand the broomstick there and move your hand to keep it straight. Until you get it wrong of course. That's what the computer is for.

              1. Stoneshop Silver badge
                Holmes

                Re: Totally useless "technology" "invention".

                Until you get it wrong of course. That's what the computer is for.

                Oh, definitely. Computers allow us to stuff up things much faster, much more accurately and with perfect repeatability.

            3. kventin
              Boffin

              Re: Totally useless "technology" "invention".

              magic.

              (don't listen to any pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo and use Ockham's razor: the simpler the explanation, the likelier it's true.)

            4. C 18
              Boffin

              Re: Totally useless "technology" "invention".

              >...why doesn't it just topple over?

              Simple really, effectively the thrust from the engines is cancelling the effect gravity is having on the mass of the vehicle. The cancelling effect leaves the behemoth floating precariously between lighter-than-air, and heavier-than-air...just like a feather it is then pretty simple to let it float gently to the ground (if you're a computer controlling the exact amount of thrust and its direction from the twissly bits at the bottom.)

        2. auburnman

          Re: Totally useless "technology" "invention".

          I totally agree something like this should have been done years before now, but no-one else has managed it and Musk has. Calling it useless is just wrong.

        3. C 18
          Alien

          Re: Totally useless "technology" "invention".

          >...all we've done in 44 years...

          Eh, try hundreds of thousands, if not millions...

          These 44 years you refer to are but a blink of an eye in the progress of this frankly quite bothersome species you are a member of. And to think that we've come from government controlled domain of space and are getting closer to the privately explored version of the same AFTER AROUND 44 YEARS...

          The truth is out there!

    2. Professor Clifton Shallot

      Re: Totally useless "technology" "invention".

      "We did this on the moon in 1969.

      Elon is nothing, if not a marketard."

      I agree that judging by what I have read on the Register his achievements pale into insignificance in comparison with yours but in this case he might be on to something as this is almost precisely what you didn't do on the moon as the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter's photos of the discarded descent stages from the Apollo missions show.

      Don't understand the bitchiness - if he's doing something useless he won't make any money and you can Nelson Muntz at him to your heart's content then.

  9. TheTrouser

    WOW!

    WOW!

    Just WOW!

  10. Craig 2

    That is is fucking AWESOME to watch.

  11. Thorsten
    Coat

    Dr. Evil's Big Boy rocket?

    Ozzy Osbourne: I mean, they're using the same fucking jokes as they did in the last Austin Powers movie.

    Sharon Osbourne: What fucking joke?

    Jack Osbourne: You know, the fucking joke about the rocket that looks like some guy's...

    General Clark: Johnson!

  12. MondoMan

    Legs on fire?

    It's hard for me to be sure, but it looks like the landing legs are trailing fire and smoke. What's up with that?

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Legs on fire?

      I think most of the smoke and fire you see is actually the exhaust of the turbines powering the turbopumps. (If you watch closely you can see 2 plumes of fire parallel to the main engine exhaust) The legs do probably get "a bit warm". But I doubt they'd catch on fire or even heat enough to call them hot (As that would jeopardise their structural integrity)

      1. squigbobble
        Flame

        Re: Legs on fire?

        They're not on fire but it looks to me like at least 2 of the feet are trailing plumes of smoke, it's more obvious on the way down. It's probably all the paint smouldering after being blowtorched by the takeoff.

        They could build a raised launch platform with a hole in it for the rocket exhaust (like most rocket platforms are) so the legs don't get fried as badly but it'd cost a lot more than the concrete slab they're using. We might see that used for future larger versions as they would need more powerful rockets and presumably be more inclined to fry the landing gear.

        The landing pad doesn't look too healthy either. Concrete's cheap, though.

    2. paulc

      Re: Legs on fire?

      I think you'll find that they're smoke generators being used to give some idea of the relative motion of the air it's passing through.

      1. squigbobble
        Trollface

        Re: Legs on fire?

        Yes, but are they meant to be smoke generators? :D

  13. Ru
    Paris Hilton

    It seems a bit crazy to me that vertical landing under Earth's gravity and in a thick atmposhere is considered a good idea, compared to a lifting body design that can do a glide landing. All that fuel you need to carry up just to give you a soft landing seems like an incredibly expensive waste.

    I assume they've run the numbers on this. Anyone got any ideas about what is wrong with aerodynamic landing on a runway? Do vertical landing rockets really weigh less and cost less than wings?

    1. Crisp

      Re: vertical landing

      Vertical landing would be a boon if you were thinking of landing your rocket on a planet or moon with little or no atmosphere.

      1. Simon Harris

        Re: vertical landing

        "Vertical landing would be a boon if you were thinking of landing your rocket on a planet or moon with little or no atmosphere." ....

        .... or runways!

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Booster tubes coming down are not particularly aerodynamic. You can deploy a parachute of course, but that will lose you any good control on the position of touchdown and will most probably lead to a crunch moment anyway.

    3. Graham Dawson Silver badge

      Not so crazy. You'd need as much if not more fuel to carry the extra weight of the lifting and control surfaces, it would dramatically increase the cost of each launch and it would introduce a lot more potential failure points. This way is cheaper, simpler and I'd wager a lot more reliable.

      It's not "just" a soft landing either. Bringing back the early rocket stages for refurbishing and reuse will slash the cost of launches.

      1. Ru
        Holmes

        Yes, I am aware of the fact that other planets/moons have insufficient atmosphere for an aerodynamic landing, but that isn't particularly interesting... landing on other bodies in the solar system isn't exactly a solved problem, , but it is one that has been done many times in many different ways. The Grasshopper is interesting mostly because it is doing so with a quite a large rocket, in a pretty strong gravitational field.

        You'd need as much if not more fuel to carry the extra weight of the lifting and control surfaces, it would dramatically increase the cost of each launch and it would introduce a lot more potential failure points.

        That argument could work both ways though. Wings and lifting bodies are potentially very simple devices, with no parts that might be expected to explode in an enormous fireball, and control of gliding and flying bodies in Earth's atmosphere is a well understood science after all... the Grasshopper by contrast is quite novel.

        That's why I asked about actual figures. The implication is that cost of this whole Grasshopper project, and the additional cost, weight and engineering complexity per rocket using this technology in future still represents excellent value for money compared to parachute+crunchdown or the production of glidable boosters or indeed the use of WhiteKnight style aircraft first stages. Vertical rocket landing is positively Heath Robinson; where are the savings?

        1. Pookietoo
          FAIL

          re: Wings ... very simple ... an enormous fireball

          Columbia.

    4. IglooDude

      Because glide landing on Mars is more problematic?

    5. Conrad Longmore

      Most of the mass of a rocket is made up of fuel or the propulsion systems. An Atlas V rocket ways over 330 tons but the payload is only about 1.5% to 9% depending on where it is going. So fuel is a critical issue, and gliding down (like a Shuttle) basically uses none at all, where coming down on a pillar of fire is probably going to use almost as much as going up in the first place.

      Earth has a decent amount of atmosphere for doing that. However, Mars does not and this looks like a good solution to that problem, assuming you can get all that fuel into orbit somehow.

      1. James Hughes 1

        @Conrad

        Coming down under engine uses Mmuch MUCH less fuel than going up. For a number of reasons..(some of these cross over a bit)

        1) Rocket has a terminal velocity much lower than it need when going upwards - air drag stops it speeding up too much on the way down.

        2) Rocket is much lighter since most of its fuel has already been used on the way up.

        3) You only need the rocket at decent throttle for the last few miles or so.

        4) You don't need to run the engine(s) at full power for the landing, since you have a much lower speed to shed, and much less mass to decelerate.

      2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Boffin

        @Conrad Longmore

        "An Atlas V rocket ways over 330 tons but the payload is only about 1.5% to 9% depending on where it is going. "

        9%? I don't think so. A rocket whose payload is 3.5% of its GTOW is considered very good.

        A vehicle whose entire structure (including the payload) was 9% of GTOW is plausible.

    6. Mike Flugennock

      VTOL booster, crazy?

      ...I assume they've run the numbers on this. Anyone got any ideas about what is wrong with aerodynamic landing on a runway? Do vertical landing rockets really weigh less and cost less than wings?

      Actually, there was a fair amount of research done on the concept of a piloted "flyback booster" very early in the Space Shuttle program, but were scrapped for technical and cost reasons.

      Here's a couple of early Shuttle flyback booster concepts from the late '60s:

      http://www.astronautix.com/graphics/b/bsts70b.jpg ...Sleek, but huge.

      http://www.astronautix.com/graphics/s/shutbnar.jpg ...Christ, wotta hog.

      1. Ru

        Re: VTOL booster, crazy?

        Columbia.

        Of the 135 Space Shuttle flights, single Buran flight, single BOR-4 flight and at least 3 X-37 flights all of which involved an orbit, re-entry and glide phase, only one had a catastrophic failure on re-entry. That failure, damage to heat shielding, is exactly the same sort of risk that any large re-entry vehicle would face regardless of whether it had wings or not.

        Furthermore, the accident was caused during re-entry, not something that the Grasshopper or its immediate descendants are ever likely to be subjected to.

        Actually, there was a fair amount of research done on the concept of a piloted "flyback booster" very early in the Space Shuttle program, but were scrapped for technical and cost reasons.

        Ahh, that's a bit more like it. I guess I'll have to look into those a little further, but I wonder if technology has marched on sufficiently to deal with the issues they'd encountered then. Modern approaches to rocketry staging are slightly different, too. The Grasshopper design is probably cheaper to scale than building ever bigger winged external fuel tanks though, so that is definitely in its favour.

        1. Ru
          Flame

          Re: VTOL booster, crazy?

          A little more pondering presents two more possible reasons...

          1. asymmetric rocket designs are not your friend. The spaceshuttle was very usual... almost all rocket designs are axisymmetric as it makes all sorts of balancing and steering issues at takeoff vastly simpler.

          2. The Grasshopper design can almost be integrated 'for free' into the existing Falcon 9 and Falcon 9 Heavy stacks

          From a short-to-medium term point of view, (2) is probably the major benefit. Boosters capable of aerodynamic descent probably want a new rocket design, and that's expensive enough for now that any future cost savings might not look very attractive.

          Roll on Lofstrom loops, eh?

      2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Unhappy

        @Mike Fluggenhock

        "Actually, there was a fair amount of research done on the concept of a piloted "flyback booster" very early in the Space Shuttle program, but were scrapped for technical and cost reasons."

        But mostly the $1Bn cost cap courtesy of the OMB under Cap Weinberger.

        Only the SRB/ET/Orbiter design (devised by a British engineer IIRC) could get the job done for the budget.

        And rest, including the high operating costs and the long turnaround times, are history.

        <sigh>

    7. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Meh

      "It seems a bit crazy to me that vertical landing under Earth's gravity and in a thick atmposhere is considered a good idea, compared to a lifting body design that can do a glide landing. All that fuel you need to carry up just to give you a soft landing seems like an incredibly expensive waste."

      Perhaps you could remind us of the history of successful lifting body based launch vehicles.

      I am aware of the PRIME, ASSET, BOR-4 and MiG 105 payloads only.

      1. Ru
        Meh

        Perhaps you could remind us of the history of successful lifting body based launch vehicles.

        It is remarkably simliar to the history of successful reuseable launch vehicles capable of controlled vertical landing on Earth.

        If you include air-breathing, winged first stages then I'd say that aerodynamic, re-useable launch stages have had a rather better history... WhiteKnight has been the first stage of a couple of suborbital flights, and Orbital Sciences' Lockheed L-1011 has been a part of numerous commercial launches putting payloads in orbit using a Pegasus rocket.

        I am aware of the PRIME, ASSET, BOR-4 and MiG 105 payloads only.

        The fact that no-one has used primary stages capable of aerodynamic landing has not passed me by, believe it or not. This is why I was asking actual figures or at the very least some research papers. Pointing out that no-one has made such a thing does not even begin to explain why not.

        1. James Hughes 1

          @RU

          All this stuff is extensively covered in the aeronautical and rocket literature. Instead of asking here for figures, do some Googling.

          You can also watch Musk's videos where he does talk about the mass fractions available, and why powered landing is, in his view, better than glider landing.

  14. feynman

    Bring on the 1960's

    Just like a 1950's movie :). Amazing, another small step forward.

  15. Paul Smith

    Pretty... but pointless

    A very cool piece of engineering combined with some excellent sensor usage but so what? They could have produced exactly the same results with a parachute and not have had to carry (and burn) all the extra fuel involved.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Pretty... but pointless

      You misoverestimate the power of a parachute.

      1. Peter Ford

        Re: Pretty... but pointless

        That would be a frickin' big parachute and a lot less likely to land on the black to it left behind (or even in the same state as the black dot...)

        While they can easily change the launch schedule to avoid a windy day, once the thing is coming down on a parachute you're not going to be able to say "Too windy to parachute in: scratch that!". The controlled rocket descent has a much wider operating envelope with respect to weather.

        However...

        With a parachute landing you can have used/dumped all the nasty burny stuff before you come down, so a crash is just bits of metal... With a rocket landing, you still need some fuel in there and a crash is a bit more spectacular :)

        1. Don Jefe

          Re: Pretty... but pointless

          Even in dead calm weather parachute landings skid on impact as any motion energy is spent in unpredictable ways upon ground contact. Look at professional skydivers/parachutists, they go all over the place when they land and they are dynamic and can compensate for a lot. A big metal tube is not very flexible and the potential for spectacular 'landings' is huge.

      2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Happy

        @Destroy All Monsters

        "You misoverestimate the power of a parachute."

        Nice.

        Is there a website of the collected "wisdom" of 'ol Shrub?

        1. Don Jefe
          Happy

          Re: @Destroy All Monsters

          Bushisms. Here's an index of some of his best from 2000 on:

          http://politicalhumor.about.com/library/blbushisms.htm

          1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
            WTF?

            Re: @Destroy All Monsters

            "Bushisms. Here's an index of some of his best from 2000 on:

            http://politicalhumor.about.com/library/blbushisms.htm"

            Oh f**k me.

            Here's the thing us non-Americans could never understand. Pretty much all presidential speeches are written by a team of writers. Modern Presidents do not have to remember anything.

            So either his speechwriters wrote this for him and he was happy this catches his true tone of speaking IOW you really did elect Forest Gump, or he can't even read an autocue properly.

            Words fail me. And on this basis, him too.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: @Destroy All Monsters

              Most of these quotes are when he was speaking off the cuff, not from teleprompter (where it was not perfect either it has to be said). It's interesting to compare him to the current incumbent in that regard: whilst Bush would come up with the occasional malapropism when ad-libbing, he was generally coherent enough to be understood most of the time. Obama can't talk without a prompter for more than a sentence or two without descending into complete nonsense.

    2. hplasm
      Thumb Down

      Re: Pretty... but pointless

      "They could have produced exactly the same results with a parachute..."

      -or by not taking off in the first place.

  16. Adam Nealis

    Can we please have that in units of football fields?

    "The 325-metre flight is higher than Manhattan's Chrysler building, London's Shard, or the Sydney Tower."

    1. Sir Sham Cad

      Re: Can we please have that in units of football fields?

      The correct measurement is Linguine (2321.4286 in this case)

      El Reg Unit Converter

  17. paulc

    Wake me up when

    It does a radical lateral transition and lands some distance away from the take-off point...

  18. b 3

    one of the coolest vids i've seen in a long time

    excellent.

  19. James Hughes 1

    Usual set of misinformed comment

    Well done commentards.

    1) Why not wings/lifting body? Lots of information around on why not, but basically, weight. Wings are heavy and difficult to deal with on the way up.

    2) lateral transformation. It's an incremental program - pretty sure no-one here learned to run before they could walk.

    3) Pointless - use a parachute. AFAIK, No parachute has ever be made that's big enough to support something this large. In addition, the speeds involved are too high for initial deployment speed, so you would need drogues first, probably more than one. So why not just use the engines to slow down (I reckon they may use both). Check out Armadillo aerospace for their shenanigans with parachutes.

    4) We DIDN'T do this on the Moon in 69. This is a ten story high rocket that weights a hell of a lot, that need to be controlled in an atmosphere and is fully computer controlled. Exactly different to the lunar module.

    5) Use Google. All this stuff and more at your fingertips.

    1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

      Re: Usual set of misinformed comment

      I would add to (1) above that for vertical lift off and horizontal landing there is an additional weight penalty (in excess of the weight of the wings and control machinery) because the structural elements of the rocket must be made resistant against lateral forces as well as the axial ones.

      For vertical lift off/vertical landing you only need to reinforce the construction against axial acceleration and all rockets are already designed that way.

  20. Dale 3

    Camera

    Why can't NASA have cool footage like that for their launches? Instead of, or in addition to, the usual long distance point and tilt perspective, seeing the launch vehicle whizz by would make it interesting again.

    1. Don Jefe

      Re: Camera

      Because something like that from NASA would require Congressional approval, cost about $3.3 billion and take eight years to get off the ground.

    2. phuzz Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Camera

      It's from a bit further away, but if you google, there's plenty of pics and videos from commercial flights of the Shuttle taking off.

      eg: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GE_USPTmYXM

  21. Tempest8008
    Meh

    Chuck it out of a plane, have it parachute to a given height THEN fire up the rocket and land where you want it to.

    Then I'll be REALLY impressed.

    Right now I'm just somewhat impressed.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      > Chuck it out of a plane

      Do you mean "chuck a plane out of it"?

      It's PRETTY LARGE

  22. Beachrider

    This thing is for recylcing the rocket, right?

    I though that SpaceX was doing this to recover the rocket for reuse. If so, then the major challenge is getting a job-done stage 1 rocket to contain enough additional fuel to fly laterally (perhaps many, many miles) and then lower itself from ~30-100 miles in the air.

    I am interested, but it really sounds like a lot of reserve fuel (deleted from the payload).

    As you can see from the landing, if you put it down somewhere (just a few feet away), whatever you land-on needs to have tremendous fire resiliency.

    1. James Hughes 1

      Re: This thing is for recylcing the rocket, right?

      GOOD GOD. You had best PHONE SPACEX right now before they spend any more money.

      On the other hand, I wonder if they have already done all the calculation before spending all those millions on a VTOL rocket? Let's hope so eh!

      /Sarcasm

      Or, you could just check out Elon Musk talking about exactly this on one of his video presentations on YouTube.

    2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Meh

      Re: This thing is for recylcing the rocket, right?

      "I though that SpaceX was doing this to recover the rocket for reuse. "

      Yes.

      "If so, then the major challenge is getting a job-done stage 1 rocket to contain enough additional fuel to fly laterally (perhaps many, many miles) and then lower itself from ~30-100 miles in the air."

      Wrong. After separation it continues to coast up and along and the atmosphere continues to thin out. Once it's coasted to a stop it has no preferred direction to go except downward.

      But flip it end over end with some short thruster bursts (The stage weighs maybe 6% of what it took off as) so it can kill most of that coast and give it a bit of forward momentum (more thruster bursts) and the stage "falls" in an arc, not a straight line, back to the launch site.

      So no you need the fuel for the final few Km only. The smarter you are the lower your errors were and the less fuel you need.

    3. Beachrider

      Re: This thing is for recylcing the rocket, right?

      Just to set some scale to this, the external tank for Shuttle, when launched from Florida, landed mostly in the Pacific Ocean (a few landed in the Indian Ocean). F9 clearly runs its first stage for less time, though.

      It doesn't take much burn time to get stage1-shutdown to be quite far from the launch site.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    balls

    As someone already mentioned, NASA were doing this on the moon in the 60s, albeit an a smaller scale and without atmospheric factors. But NASA did it with 40 year old technology including a pocket calculator for a computer, transported absolutely every last bit of kit 250,000 miles to a different 'planet' using the mother-of-all rockets and driven by 3 astronauts who had big, shiny balls of steel.

    So, although it is rocket science, its hardly rocket science.

    (Did you see what I did there?)

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: balls

      > (Did you see what I did there?)

      You failed hard?

  24. Jim Wilkinson

    Wow

    Seriously impressive

  25. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Coat

    You asked for this. I think we need a meercat to explain the significance of this.

    Ordinary launch vehicle take off, dropping stages as it go to orbit.

    Stages thrown away.

    (planned) Falcon 9 Reusable Launch Vehicle also drop off stages on way to orbit.

    But stages return to launch site, mate back together, re-fuel and go up again.

    Stages not thrown away. Engines used to go up reused to handle landing. No mass wasted with sillies like parachutes, wings or rotor blades.

    Simples. In theory.

    But trickies in practice. Earths gravity 6x that of Moon. Winds blow about at random and rocket stage Mr Floppy due to thin walls and high aspect ratio.

    Spacex use method "stepwise refinement," try little, study results, try some more.

    Spacex almost as clever as Meercat gang.

  26. Matthew Bartels
    Trollface

    Totally worthless

    The plastic paratrooper that I bought out of a gumball machine can make a safe landing with just a parachute, so this is obviously a worthless "innovation"! They could have spent that money on something valuable, like solving world hunger, or curing cancer. What a stupid, useless waste.

    1. Don Jefe
      FAIL

      Re: Totally worthless

      When you've got your own billions of dollars to spend you can choose to feed the hungry, cure cancer or whatever you like.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They've done studies, you know. 60% of the time, it works every time.

    In the immortal words of Brian Fantana: "Time To Musk Up !"

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