Watch SpaceX Test Reusable Rockets (and Scare Cows) in Texas Test-Site Video

An awesome video from SpaceX shows the best way for space nerds to send a herd of cows running: Just dangle a self-landing rocket practically over their heads.

The YouTube video shows activities at the California-based company's rocket development facility in McGregor, Texas, which is roughly 90 miles (150 kilometers) north of Austin. The sprawling 4,000-acre (1,600 hectares) facility is the site of roughly two engine or rocket tests a day, according to SpaceX, and viewers are treated to spectacular footage of those tests in the SpaceX video.

In one scene, a Falcon reusable rocket belches out smoke and flame; later on, another Falcon reusable prototype rocket (or perhaps it's the same one) hovers in midair, presumably about to land on its feet. [Watch: SpaceX's Explosive Rocket Landing Blooper Reel]

Another test shows Draco thrusters being tested for the Dragon spacecraft as the vehicle is tethered to a launchpad. Engines are also shown in various stages of development, including inspection and testing.

A SpaceX Grasshopper reusable-rocket prototype sends a herd of cows running in this still image from a video of the company's rocket testing site in McGregor, Texas. (Image credit: SpaceX)


"Every Merlin engine that powers the Falcon 9 rocket and every Draco thruster that controls the Dragon spacecraft is tested on one of 11 test stands," SpaceX states on its website. "The Falcon 9 first stage is tested with all nine Merlin engines firing at 1.71 million pounds [776,000 kilograms] of thrust for up to three minutes — the same as actual flight duration."

SpaceX uses its Falcon 9 rockets and Dragon spacecraft to ferry supplies to the International Space Station for NASA, and Falcon 9 boosters are also used to launch commercial and military satellites (and even the mysterious X-37B space plane). SpaceX is also working on a human-rated Dragon spacecraft to send crewmembers aloft starting next year, if the schedule holds.

In the video, viewers get a glimpse of the main entrance to the SpaceX offices, which features comfortable-looking white couches, a small table (in the background) with an engine that holds up models of SpaceX rockets, and rows of cubicles in the back where technicians collaborate in the aisles.

Other locations featured in the video include the central hanger (complete with Texan and American flags), small and large sites for rocket tests, and the SuperDraco test stand. The location where the cows roamed was not disclosed, but it appeared to be close to the launch areas.

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: