SpaceX’s Grasshopper moved to New Mexico so it is permitted to fly higher and side to side in tests

Spacex’s Grasshopper reusable test rocket is moving New Mexico so it can go beyond current flight limitations. This would allow the rocket — a testbed for vertical takeoff and landing technology — to soar beyond the 2,500-foot limit imposed on McGregor testing by its Federal Aviation Administration permit. It also will give the rocket room to move side-to-side to try different trajectories on the spaceport’s 18,000 acres.

Other Grasshopper testing would remain in McGregor, Ra said, along with testing on engines for the Dragon orbiter and Falcon rockets, including a series of louder-than-normal tests beginning with a 10-second rocket firing provisionally set for Wednesday.

Grasshopper is a testbed for technology that would eventually allow rocket stages — currently orbiting Earth as space junk or breaking up as they re-enter Earth’s atmosphere — to return to the launch site to be reused, bringing down the cost of spaceflight.

SpaceX already is applying what it’s learned from Grasshopper. Testing at McGregor has begun on the Falcon 9-R, a new iteration of the company’s Falcon 9 rocket. The “R” stands for “reusable,” according to a tweet by company founder and CEO Elon Musk. Another tweet showed workers at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif., examining a helium-driven telescoping leg for the rocket.

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