SpaceX tests flight version of Raptor engine

Daniel Fowler
February 5, 2019

Elon Musk tweeted footage of Space X's Starship Raptor engine in action.

The Starship project, which SpaceX expects to become its main family of spacecraft and carry passengers to Mars, has been going through twists and turns at the company's Boca Chica, Texas facility.

This isn't, therefore, the first time the Raptor engine has ever been fired - SpaceX has fired individual components before and experimented with various designs.

SpaceX has successfully finished the static fire test of Raptor engine created to power rockets including Starship. SpaceX is now building a prototype of the rocket at its facility near Brownsville, Texas.

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The rocket is now being built outside of Brownsville, Texas, and the image and video Musk tweeted is the first time the public has gotten to see it in action. The Super Heavy mounts 31 Raptor engines, while the Starship has seven. 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. As Business Insider reports, the engine underwent a radical redesign and is capable of 200 metric tons of thrust.

The first launches of the full-scale Starship-Super Heavy duo could follow in relatively short order.

In an earlier tweet, Musk said SpaceX would start out making a 440,000-pound-thrust version of the Raptor, to be used on the Starship interplanetary spaceship as well as its Super Heavy first-stage booster. Before that can happen, SpaceX needs to make sure its engines are working as intended, and a test firing conducted on Sunday suggests that all is well. Merlins use kerosene and liquid oxygen (LOX) propellants, for example, whereas Raptors use liquid methane and LOX.

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