This is probably the coolest thing SpaceX’s already very cool Grasshopper rocket has done so far.
The spacecraft, which is capable of vertical takeoff and landing, yesterday managed to add a new trick to its collection: lateral movement.
As you can see in the video, the Grasshopper spacecraft flew to a 250 metre altitude with a 100 metre lateral maneuver before returning to the center of the pad.
“The test demonstrated the vehicle’s ability to perform more aggressive steering maneuvers than have been attempted in previous flights,” Space X says in the video description.
“Grasshopper is taller than a ten story building, which makes the control problem particularly challenging. Diverts like this are an important part of the trajectory in order to land the rocket precisely back at the launch site after reentering from space at hypersonic velocity,” the private space exploration company adds.