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back to article Elon Musk's Grasshopper tops 300m, lands safely

Elon Musk's Grasshopper rocket has eclipsed the 80-odd metres it managed in March, achieving a “personal best” of around 325 metres and landing successfully, in spite of wind during the test flight. The thousand-foot-mark is a significant milestone for the ten-storey vertical takeoff, vertical landing rocket (VTVL). Getting …

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Facepalm

Merlin engine?

That name has already been taken and is no longer available.

How about Merkin engine instead?

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Headmaster

Re: Merlin engine?

Not quite. The RR Merlin is a piston engine and is no longer in production. The engine used in the grashopper is a rocket and in that context, Merlin is the name used by SpaceX for its range of rocket engines.

There is no confusion.

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Re: Merlin engine?

To be fair to Mr Coat, the Merlin engine he mentions was able to power a craft from lift-off and back to landing on the same runway, so there's some similarity ;-)

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Gimp

Re: Merlin engine?

>"That name has already been taken and is no longer available."

Well then - Tim Cook needs to get off his butt and sue somebody!

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Re: Merlin engine?

Not quite.

My original comment was meant to be humorous but if you want to get serious then this imposter engine will only earn the name Merlin when it has changed the course of a world war and subsequent history.

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Anonymous Coward

If

If I'd not seen it I'd have thought it was a slow rewind, brilliant is a word that doesn't do it justice.

But just how may mpg do you get?

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Coat

Re: Merlin engine?

There's plenty of room for confusion, the RR Merlin's space-flight capabilities are well known: http://tardis.wikia.com/wiki/Spitfire

The one with the sonic screwdriver in the pocket. No, I'll leave the fez.

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Alien

Re: Merlin engine?

@Allan George Dyer

" ...the RR Merlin's space-flight capabilities are well known..."

Yes, how about four of them: Picture Link

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Re: If

looks like about 0 as it didn’t get anywhere in the end.

I think I must have watched too many rocket launches - I was secretly disappointed there want a huge conflagration as there normally is when one of these things comes back too quickly.

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Childcatcher

Re: Merlin engine?

I remember the fuss about the original story, but that illustration is thoroughly faked. Look at the date on the newspaper, and the general feel of the design. You can find plenty of pics of the real front page with that story--14th August 1988. It seems to go back to a Russian report of March that year, and the named "scientist" has cropped up as the source of other similarly incredible reports over more than 20 years.

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Headmaster

Re: Merlin engine?

"the named "scientist" has cropped up as the source of other similarly incredible reports over more than 20 years."

Herr Professor Doktor Zarkov has been the source of many major revelations over almost 70 years. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans_Zarkov>

<exit, stage right, to the sound of Mercury & May singing 'Flash!">

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Re: Merlin engine?

Have you got the rest of the paper? I want to "read" about this Triple Breasted Whore.

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Happy

Re: Merlin engine?

Sounds good to me. I'm not involved in its development, but I'd be flattered if it was named after me.

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WTF?

Re: Merlin engine?

Oh ffs! It's JUST an engine - a brilliant piece of engineering and something of which we can be proud yes, but it's still just an engine. I really REALLY don't think you need to get all protective over it!

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" to power a craft from lift-off and back to landing"

...more than once

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Merlin engine?

@Mc - i did wonder about that but it was the facepalm icon that had me thinking you were serious .. Soz.

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Trollface

Re: If

>But just how may mpg do you get?

Fecking downloaders, every time they see new technology, their first thought is 'is this a storage solution?'

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Anonymous Coward

Brilliant!

(nothing else)

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Can I place an order for my Eagle spacecraft now??

Spacesuits with flares, the ONLY way to travel.

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Powered by ARM

Possibly their smallest customer in terms of units but (probably) one of their most visible.

You've got to wonder what these new sensors are. Have then gone for higher grade units or have they had to shift their design and use new things. For close range high precision location assisted GPS should be fine, as the approach speeds should be well within the allowed civilian specs. If they're not it's all gone seriously pear shaped.

Thumbs up for excellent work and I'm really looking forward to their Dragon pad abort test sometime in Sept.

That should be spectacular

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Re: Powered by ARM

I'd hope that they wouldn't use GPS, as that'd take away the option of using it on the moon or Mars. Rather, I'd figure they'd use laser rangefinders and a handful of inertial sensors for the necessary precision, and utility in places where we don't have GPS satellites overhead.

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Re: Powered by ARM

"For close range high precision location assisted GPS should be fine, as the approach speeds should be well within the allowed civilian specs."

But don't forget that this is a rocket, and even given the recent talk about loosening the ITAR regs, the rocket still counts as a munition, and there is nothing officially "civilian" about it. If they want to use GPS, they can.

I am curious about what they are using though. Traditional inertial sensors I have come across would have the required accuracy to find the home location, or the required range of acceleration to control attitude, but I haven't worked with one that has both. However, since they control both the rocket design, and the landing location, I would have thought that dead rekoning of some kind would be OK for the location, and then they only need inertials for attitude control.

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Re: Powered by ARM

Possibly their smallest customer in terms of units but (probably) one of their most visible.

no, outside us space-geeks, Apple is FAR more visible (unfortunately).

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Happy

Re: Powered by ARM

"I am curious about what they are using though. Traditional inertial sensors I have come across would have the required accuracy to find the home location, or the required range of acceleration to control attitude, but I haven't worked with one that has both. However, since they control both the rocket design, and the landing location, I would have thought that dead rekoning of some kind would be OK for the location, and then they only need inertials for attitude control."

Depends what you mean by "traditional." A specialist writing in the GEC Journal some years ago said no one had designed a new "spinning metal" gyroscope INS since the mid 80s. IIRC a lot of these sensors come from "Crossbow Technologies." Rather ironically the actual core laser gyros are from Russia.

People often underestimate the ability of astro nav systems. Specialized telescopes can work in daylight and triangulate to within 6m. NAA Autonetics developed this for the SR71 to run at M3. Later versions were fitted to the B2 and low speed systems are used for continental drift monitoring.

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Still someway to go...

The DC-XA reached 3140 metres...

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Unhappy

Re: Still someway to go...

"The DC-XA reached 3140 metres..."

True. It also reached M3.

However that was a test vehicle. It's aspect ratio was much easier to handle.

The DC-X programme was remarkable for what it achieved on the budget it was given.

DC-XA also demonstrated the use of a composite LH2 tank which worked.

It's tempting to speculate what would have happened if the plug nozzle developed for the AFRL in 1974 by Dr Huang of Rocketdyne had not be seriously damaged and was still available and if the DC-X had been designed to be about 1/2 the weight it was. That might have demonstrated both a full blown plug nozzle at M2 plus and (possibly) close to SSTO in a prototype.

But since ARFL managed to wreck the engine and NASA the DC-XA we'll never know.

<sigh>

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Wonderful!

That's how REAL spaceships are meant to land!

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Go

Re: Wonderful!

That's how the spaceship in Salvage-1 used to take off and land.

I vote for renaming the Grasshopper to Vulture.

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Alien

Thrust

This reminds me of the 80's computer game Thrust. All that's needed is a big ball of cargo connected to the thing by a tractor beam.

But at least whoever was in control of the rocket was better at it than I used to be at the game :)

Still nice one all round.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Thrust

Possibly the very nicest version of Thrust if you can find the hardware to run it on:

http://www.emix8.org/static.php?page=VectrexThrust

Back in the day I played it a lot on the Beeb. This homage has the physics spot on.

Oh, and awesome rocket control :-)

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Totally useless "technology" "invention".

We did this on the moon in 1969.

Elon is nothing, if not a marketard.

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Thumb Down

Re: Totally useless "technology" "invention".

Moon landing: 1/6th Earth gravity, no atmospheric turbulence to worry about.

Also Moon lander wasn't 100ft plus tall.

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Re: Totally useless "technology" "invention".

Jake does have a bit of a point, if all we've done in 44 years, with the massively more powerful computing resources available to us is make it work on earth with something a bit bigger.

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Re: Totally useless "technology" "invention".

"a bit bigger"

Yes, Lunar Descent Stage had a mass of about ten tonnes, in Lunar gravity a weight of less than two.

A ten-story rocket is definitely a bit bigger and a lot less stable when balanced on the blunt end.

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Re: Totally useless "technology" "invention".

I totally agree something like this should have been done years before now, but no-one else has managed it and Musk has. Calling it useless is just wrong.

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Go

Re: Totally useless "technology" "invention".

The other difference is that the lunar lander was human controlled, hence the creation of the flying bedstead so the astronauts could practice flying it.

SpaceX's grasshopper is completely computer controlled. And there's a lot to bed said about only taking small steps to ensure your valuable hardware comes back in one piece so you can have another go!

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Facepalm

Re: Totally useless "technology" "invention".

Next: Invention of the book considered retarded. Mesopotamians could do it in clay THOUSANDS OF YEARS EARLIER using ONLY A CHISEL.

> "F9-R control algorithms"

Yeah. Details, NOW!

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Re: Totally useless "technology" "invention".

> A ten-story rocket is definitely a bit bigger and a lot less stable when balanced on the blunt end.

Ok - I'm curious - why doesn't it just topple over?

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Boffin

Re: why doesn't it just topple over?

Rocket Science.

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Re: Totally useless "technology" "invention".

The propulsion is steerable, so it can move the bottom end a bit to keep the top end pointing up. Just like balancing a broomstick on your hand - if you get it right then you can stand the broomstick there and move your hand to keep it straight. Until you get it wrong of course. That's what the computer is for.

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Boffin

Re: Totally useless "technology" "invention".

magic.

(don't listen to any pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo and use Ockham's razor: the simpler the explanation, the likelier it's true.)

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FAIL

Re: THOUSANDS OF YEARS EARLIER using ONLY A CHISEL

Clay, yes, thousands of years, yes, but chisel - on a soft lump of clay?

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Holmes

Re: Totally useless "technology" "invention".

Until you get it wrong of course. That's what the computer is for.

Oh, definitely. Computers allow us to stuff up things much faster, much more accurately and with perfect repeatability.

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Re: Totally useless "technology" "invention".

"We did this on the moon in 1969.

Elon is nothing, if not a marketard."

I agree that judging by what I have read on the Register his achievements pale into insignificance in comparison with yours but in this case he might be on to something as this is almost precisely what you didn't do on the moon as the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter's photos of the discarded descent stages from the Apollo missions show.

Don't understand the bitchiness - if he's doing something useless he won't make any money and you can Nelson Muntz at him to your heart's content then.

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Re: THOUSANDS OF YEARS EARLIER using ONLY A CHISEL

Clay, yes, thousands of years, yes, but chisel - on a soft lump of clay?

A chisel would work really well for making marks on soft clay - you wouldn't even need a hammer ;-)

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Alien

Re: Totally useless "technology" "invention".

>...all we've done in 44 years...

Eh, try hundreds of thousands, if not millions...

These 44 years you refer to are but a blink of an eye in the progress of this frankly quite bothersome species you are a member of. And to think that we've come from government controlled domain of space and are getting closer to the privately explored version of the same AFTER AROUND 44 YEARS...

The truth is out there!

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Boffin

Re: Totally useless "technology" "invention".

>...why doesn't it just topple over?

Simple really, effectively the thrust from the engines is cancelling the effect gravity is having on the mass of the vehicle. The cancelling effect leaves the behemoth floating precariously between lighter-than-air, and heavier-than-air...just like a feather it is then pretty simple to let it float gently to the ground (if you're a computer controlling the exact amount of thrust and its direction from the twissly bits at the bottom.)

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WOW!

WOW!

Just WOW!

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That is is fucking AWESOME to watch.

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Coat

Dr. Evil's Big Boy rocket?

Ozzy Osbourne: I mean, they're using the same fucking jokes as they did in the last Austin Powers movie.

Sharon Osbourne: What fucking joke?

Jack Osbourne: You know, the fucking joke about the rocket that looks like some guy's...

General Clark: Johnson!

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