SpaceX shows how its Dragon spaceship hovers

A newly released video shows SpaceX’s Dragon 2 capsule pulling off a valuable trick: firing its thrusters to hover above a landing pad.

The Nov. 24 test was part of Project DragonFly, the California-based company’s effort to develop a Dragon that can touch down on land rather than splashing down in the ocean. The trick is likely to come into play when future Dragons come back from the International Space Station — or land on Mars.

This test was conducted at SpaceX’s rocket development facility in Texas. The Dragon was suspended from a tether, and then engineers fired up its eight SuperDraco thrusters for five seconds. SpaceX said the firing generated about 33,000 pounds of thrust before the craft was returned to its resting position.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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