The folks at SpaceX are leading us into a new era of space technology dominated by private enterprise. The company already became the first company to send an unmanned spacecraft to the International Space Station back in 2012 (fulfilling a $1.6 billion contract with NASA), and now, they are setting their sights on developing a reusable rocket system which will save the company a significant amount of money.
“If one can figure out how to effectively reuse rockets just like airplanes, the cost of access to space will be reduced by as much as a factor of a hundred. A fully reusable vehicle has never been done before. That really is the fundamental breakthrough needed to revolutionize access to space.” —Elon Musk
Above, you can see the video taken by a flying drone of the Falcon 9 Reusable (F9R) rocket taking its first test flight in Texas. The goal was to lift off and hover at a height of 250 meters before returning to the landing pad. They are still developing the rocket, so it’s much easier to do these sorts of small test flights to spot any design flaws before moving on to the bigger tests which will take place in New Mexico.
The test flight was a success by all accounts. Stay tuned for the next design stage.