Mesmerizing video: Rocket vertical take off and vertical landing filmed by a hexacopter drone.

On Oct. 7, Grasshopper, a 10-story Vertical Takeoff Vertical landing (VTVL) vehicle, completed its highest leap to date, rising to 744m altitude.

And, above all, the weird maneuver was recorded from a single camera remote controlled hexacopter.

Grasshopper VTVL vehicle was designed to test the technologies needed to return a rocket back to Earth intact. Indeeed, you can weirdly watch the rocket going up and down in an almost surreal way, as the footage, from a certain point, is played backward.

While most rockets are designed to burn up on atmosphere reentry or to fall in the ocean, SpaceX rockets are being designed to return to the launch pad for a vertical landing and the Grasshopper VTVL vehicle acts as a technological demonstrator to perform steps aimed at achieving that goal.

According to SpaceX, Grasshopper consists of a Falcon 9 rocket first stage tank, Merlin 1D engine, four steel and aluminum landing legs with hydraulic dampers, and a steel support structure.

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About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. ok, but what’s the point? it burns a shit load of fuel to land something like that, on earth, because of the amount of gravity. Because you need x amount of fuel to land that way, and you need y amount of extra fuel besides your normal payload+normal fuel amount, to take the x amount up in the first place?

    What’s wrong with a bloody parachute? I don’t get it?

    • Mostly being able to control where and how the rocket lands as well as minimizing damage to the expensive parts of the rocket (engines, fuel tanks and avionics). Being able to land the rocket on dry land and not have to deal with the damage that a parachute landing would entail on water or on dry land.

    • Fuel is the cheapest part of spaceflight, generally accounting for Land>Prep>Re-fuel>Launch again–all within 24-hours. It will cut overall per-pound launch costs by nearly 99%. Yes, 99%.

  2. Truly excellent update on the Grasshopper series, and neat video ops too. As planned, SpaceX aims to produce the first reusable launch system, with pinpoint back-to-base capability, and no need for expensive off-base recovery operations. Fuel cost is a relatively small component in a typical launch, so the system should be highly cost-effective when service entry is achieved.

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