SpaceX hovering Grasshopper rocket reaches new heights

SpaceX's reusable Grasshopper rocket launches, goes farther than ever before, hovers, and lands vertically to the soundtrack of "Ring of Fire."

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
2 min read
SpaceX Grasshopper
Up, up, and away! Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET

Last month at SXSW, SpaceX founder Elon Musk showed off a video of the SpaceX Grasshopper rocket rising 24 stories into the air and returning safely back to the ground. For a vehicle that is 10 stories high, that's pretty good, but not enough to make your jaw drop.

This creation is called the Grasshopper Vertical Takeoff Vertical Landing (VTVL) vehicle. It's so named because of its nifty parlor trick of being able to blast off vertically and then land upright. Now, the company has tripled the distance of the previous attempt and released a new video showing off the rocket's capabilities.

Rockets used to reach orbit have mostly been built to burn up in the atmosphere on the way back down. The VTVL is looking to change that by landing safely in the same position it took off in. That would make it resuable and help save some serious cash. All that money won't just be burning up if SpaceX can pull this off.

You can tell SpaceX is pretty pleased with itself since it used Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" as a soundtrack to the latest video. The other videos just got ambient noise. The Grasshopper reached 820 feet, hung in the air, and made a perfect return to the launch platform. This is what I imagine it would look like if somebody launched the Washington Monument skyward.

There's something very majestic about this video and its possible glimpse into the future of reusable launch vehicles. Maybe it's the Johnny Cash effect, but I got chills watching the Grasshopper take flight.