Elon Musk Sends SpaceX's Raptor Rocket Engine Roaring Onto Twitter

05 February, 2019, 03:43 | Author: Brooke Harris
  • SpaceX just fired its Mars rocket engine and it didn’t explode

The company has test-fired the flight version of its new Raptor rocket engine for the first time, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk announced yesterday (Feb. 3).

SpaceX has been developing its Raptor engine for years, but the latest iteration has been radically redesigned, according to a tweet from Musk in December. Among those twists have been high-powered winds, which have knocked the company's test rocket to the ground and leaving it in need of weeks of fix.

To publicly show the first test fire following the design changes and have it work perfectly will be of great encouragement to the SpaceX team.

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Early this morning, while much of America was sleeping off a dubious evening repast composed nearly entirely of chip dip, alcohol, and corn starch, Musk and the SpaceX team were prepping for the first full firing test of a Raptor engine meant to fly on the actual Starship. While SpaceX plans to develop optimized versions of the Raptor for both the Starship upper stage and the lower booster stage, now called Super Heavy, SpaceX is, for now, working on only a single version of the engine for both.

This engine uses methox torch igniters, which are in turn started by "gaseous CH4/O2 & heavy duty spark plugs", so said Musk. Starship will sport seven of the new engines, and Super Heavy will use 31 Raptors to get off the ground. While this should not have happened, it's precisely to find these pain points that engineers conduct test firings in the first place.

Once testing in McGregor is complete, the Raptor will be shipped to the South Texas site to be installed on the Starship hopper test article there, with two other engines expected to follow. And the flight Raptor will boast about twice the thrust of the Merlin version that powers the Falcon 9.

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