One of the most thrilling aspects of SpaceX's business plan is the reusability of their rockets. Earlier this week SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted pictures and video of their Grasshopper rocket taking a brief test flight and landing. It's quite a spectacular sight to see. For added humor, the Grasshopper was carrying a 6 ft tall cowboy mannequin strapped to the side. The rocket (and inanimate passenger) lifted off above the ground 131 feet, hovered for a few moments, then returned safely to Earth.
The flight is part of the testing phase in the development cycle which started last month. "We've begun testing reusability with something called the Grasshopper Project, which is a Falcon 9 first stage with landing gear that can take off and land vertically," Musk told Wired. "The stages go to orbit, then the first stage turns around, restarts the engines, boosts back to the launch site, reorients, deploys landing gear, and lands vertically."
Again, the idea is to reuse the rockets. By developing rockets that can come back down and land, SpaceX will be able to cut down on resources needed to get off the ground.
[Source: Business Insider]