The Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket lifts off from space launch complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Florida. AP/John
Scientists believe that reusable rockets that can launch, fly and land would dramatically slash the cost of travelling into space.
The company ‘s prototype Grasshopper reusable rocket took a giant leap for commercial space flight last week when it rose 131ft and landed safely back on Earth, the Daily Mail reported.
In its previous two flights the Grasshopper has managed to hover at six feet and 17ft before settling back down.
SpaceX documented last week’s successful test launch at their test pad in McGregor, Texas, in a YouTube video published last night.
Powered by a Falcon 9 rocket and Merlin 1D engine, the 10-storey-tall Grasshopper rocket is designed to take off and land vertically - part of SpaceX''s plant to develop a rocket that can return to a launch pad for rapid reuse.
It has four steel landing legs with hydraulic dampers and a steel support structure to keep it intact when it settles back down to terra firma.
In the 29-second test flight conducted December 17, the Grasshopper rocket rose to a height of 131ft - around ten storeys - and hovered before landing safely on its launch pad using closed loop thrust vector and throttle control.
SpaceX has already achieved the accolade of becoming the first private company to launch a successful mission to the International Space Station.