March 11th, 2013
04:15 PM ET

Rocket leaps 24 stories, lands intact

When it comes to building and testing reusable rockets, innovative SpaceX is hopping along with an experimental vehicle called Grasshopper.

The commercial spaceflight company demonstrated that Grasshopper could land intact as part of a test series on Thursday in McGregor, Texas, a small town southwest of Waco.

This was the fourth try for the rocket, which stands 10 stories tall, and it successfully doubled its highest leap to date, rising 24 stories or 80.1 meters.

The prototype hovered for about 34 seconds and landed safely, making it easier and easier to imagine a future where a spacecraft doesn’t burn up when it re-enters Earth's atmosphere.

This is one small step for Grasshopper, one giant leap for space exploration’s pocketbook.

Check out the recently released video above to see the successful launch and landing.

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Filed under: In Space
Women in science: Now and then
March 11th, 2013
02:48 PM ET

Women in science: Now and then

It's no secret that we still have a long way to go before achieving gender equity in the fields collectively known as STEM: science, technology, engineering and mathematics. But what better way to derive inspiration than to reflect upon those who have managed to buck the trend? In honor of Women's Hustory Month, we're taking a look at contemporary innovators in STEM and their historical analogs. For the latest in science news year-round, be sure to check out CNN's Light Years blog.

The work of solar astronomer Mitzi Adams, left, has improved our understanding of the sun's turbulent behavior. Since joining NASA in 1988 at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, she has conducted research for a variety of solar missions. She carries on the tradition of discovery that Annie Jump Cannon (1863-1941) began in the late 1800s. Cannon was known as the "census taker in the sky," and developed a stellar classification system that became the standard of the Harvard Observatory.

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Filed under: Voices
Elon Musk: Our future in space depends on reusable rockets
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, right, on Saturday describes stressful moments during the company's Dragon mission to the International Space Station.
March 11th, 2013
10:31 AM ET

Elon Musk: Our future in space depends on reusable rockets

The future of space travel will depend on our ability to make rockets that can be used more than once, says SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. And on Saturday, he gave a crowd at the South by Southwest Interactive festival the world's first look at a step in that direction.

Musk, whose SpaceX Dragon is currently docked on the International Space Station, showed a packed exhibit hall a two-day-old video of Grasshopper, an experimental rocket. If fully realized, the rocket would propel spacecraft out of the earth's atmosphere, then flip around, sprout landing gear and return intact to the launch pad.

In the video, a 10-story-high Grasshopper rocket did just that - except for the leaving-the-atmosphere part. It blasted off, hovered, and then set itself down at virtually the same spot where it began. The video, with its Johnny Cash "Ring of Fire" soundtrack, drew cheers from the crowd.

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Filed under: In Space

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