Spoiler: The video above shows SpaceX’s 100-foot-tall Grasshopper rocket blasting off, hovering in the air for about 30 seconds and then descending back to terra firma. And it’s set to Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire. That’s it. There’s no drama, fireworks or anything shocking, but it’s still absurdly important and totally worth watching.
This launch marks the reusable rocket’s most significant flight yet. It reached a record 262.8 feet before lowering itself back down on its own launch pad. Elon Musk called it the Johnny Cash hover slam.
Designed to launch and land vertically on its metal legs, the Grasshopper is part of SpaceX’s long-term roadmap. The company has yet to reveal when it intends to use the model — or its successors — for space flight. The rocket has been in testing since September 2012, with each test launch reaching a bit closer to the stars above.
“The US is a country of explorers,” stated Musk at his SXSWi keynote adding “People need to believe that [space travel] is not going to bankrupt them.”
For several years Musk has championed the idea that humans must be a multi-planet species and a reusable rocket, like the Grasshopper here, is a big part of his grand vision.