During initial tests of their 8.1-metre (27-foot) tall reusable rocket, Chinese engineers from LinkSpace, a start-up led by China's youngest space entrepreneur, used a Kevlar tether to ensure its safe return. Just in case.
But when the Beijing-based company's prototype, called NewLine Baby, successfully took off and landed last week for the second time in two months, no tether was needed.
The 1.5-tonne rocket hovered 40 metres above the ground before descending back to its concrete launch pad after 30 seconds, to the relief of 26-year-old chief executive Hu Zhenyu and his engineers - one of whom cartwheeled his way to the launch pad in delight.
LinkSpace, one of China's 15-plus private rocket manufacturers, sees these short hops as the first steps towards a new business model: sending tiny, inexpensive satellites into orbit at affordable prices.