Bunny-Hopping into Space

A cheap, lightweight rocket could make the shuttle obsolete

None of the spectators at the Army's White Sands Missile Range had ever seen anything quite like it. With a burst of smoke and a flash of light, a 40-ft.- tall white obelisk shuddered briefly, popped off a launch pad and rose 150 ft. over the New Mexico desert. Then it suddenly stopped in midair, moved sideways for 350 ft. and started back down, engines firing all the way. At the last moment, four rodlike pods shot out of the tail to ease the bullet-shaped rocket gently to the ground.

It was the first time a spacecraft had ever come back...

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