New thread time due to a major change in SpaceX Grasshopper test operations, and it appears we are getting very close to Grasshopper 2.0 which will fly to altitudes of 300,000 feet by the time it's done.
This change from McGregor Texas to Spaceport Ameraca, a more open range away from populated areas, previously had been though to end up at the White Sands Missile Range (WSMR). Perhaps SpaceX doesn't want to be limited by the DoD's test schedule. Spaceport America will also be the base of operations for Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo.
Grasshopper 2.0 will he based on the new Falcon 9 v1.1 core, Merlin 1D engines and have 4 extendable landing legs.
Image of a landing leg at bottom. The legs A frames attach to the bottom of the Grasshopper 2 / F9R thrust structure (engine mount) and the telescoping upper arms attach to hard points around the fuel tank. Extension of the upper arm is accomplished using pressurized helium, which is already onboard to pressurize the fuel and liquid oxygen tanks. Leg span is over 60 feet.
The operational version of a reusable Falcon 9 v1.1 will be named F9R, pronounced "F-Niner."
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Spaceport America Welcomes SpaceX for Reusable Rocket Testing Program
(Santa Fe, NM) -
Governor Susana Martinez today announced that Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, or SpaceX, has signed a three-year agreement to lease land and facilities at Spaceport America to conduct the next phase of flight testing for its reusable rocket program. The company will be a new tenant at Spaceport America, the state-owned commercial launch site located in southern New Mexico.
“I am thrilled that SpaceX has chosen to make New Mexico its home, bringing their revolutionary “Grasshopper” rocket and new jobs with them,” Governor Martinez said today. “We’ve done a lot of work to level the playing field so we can compete in the space industry. This is just the first step in broadening the base out at the Spaceport and securing even more tenants. I’m proud to welcome SpaceX to New Mexico.”
SpaceX has completed its first series of successful, low-altitude tests of the “Grasshopper” vehicle in McGregor, Texas and is proceeding to the next phase of development that includes testing in New Mexico. With Grasshopper, SpaceX engineers are creating technology that will enable a rocket to return to the launch pad intact for a vertical landing, rather than burning up upon reentry in the Earth’s atmosphere.
SpaceX President and COO Gwynne Shotwell said, “Spaceport America offers us the physical and regulatory landscape needed to complete the next phase of Grasshopper testing. We are pleased to expand our reusable rocket development infrastructure to New Mexico.”
The New Mexico Spaceport Authority has been readying the world’s first purpose-built, commercial spaceport specifically for leading-edge programs like Grasshopper.
Christine Anderson, the NMSA Executive Director, said, “We are excited that SpaceX is coming to Spaceport America, where our first-class service will empower them to focus their full attention on their mission.”
Spaceport America hangar and runway
GH2 / F9R landing leg