SpaceX’s vertical takeoff and landing Grasshopper rocket has been performing well but the private space company isn’t the only one experimenting with VTOL spacecraft. NASA’s Morpheus lander has similar capabilities and has just completed its first successful free flight test. The lander lifts off to a height of about 50 feet, traverses sideways and then touches down without a hitch.
There are some obvious differences between NASA’s craft and the Grasshopper rocket, of course. Morpheus is designed for use on the moon’s surface (or other planets entirely), where it will be able to jump over obstacles and deliver supplies to anyone who may be roaming around up there. Human explorers, that is – we doubt any aliens will be calling for takeaways any time soon. Grasshopper is a launch and landing vehicle that will operate from Earth.
The performance of the Morpheus landing is far better than last year’s attempt (below) where it tipped over on launch and then exploded.
Source: The Verge