March 24, 2019

Watch SpaceX Test Fire the Raptor Engine

05 February 2019, 03:40 | Hattie Nash

Watch SpaceX Test Fire the Raptor Engine

Watch SpaceX Test Fire the Raptor Engine

SpaceX's Starship is a rocket the company is designing with the goal of transporting humans and cargo to Mars.

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. Musk, who posted about the event on Twitter, congratulated his team with a message about the successful test.

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There is no substitute for this kind of test-firing and, as Ars Technica notes, "any "first" test firing of a new, full-scale rocket engine that doesn't end in an uncontrolled explosion is a good thing". The Starship Hopper - the smaller prototype craft that will be used for hop tests rather than going all the way into space - sustained damage when it tipped over in high winds at the launch facility. There'd eventually be 31 Raptors powering the reusable Super Heavy, and seven Raptors on the Starship.

In later responses, Musk said that the first orbital prototype should be ready by June.

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Separate follow-on versions would be customized for use on the Starship or on the Super Heavy, packing a punch of as much as 550,000 pounds each at liftoff.

The first rocket firing happened right around 1AM Central Time on the morning of Sunday, February 3rd, 2019.

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Raptor has gone through a number of design changes - originally, SpaceX planned to mount it to the ITS launch vehicle back in 2016 (powered by 42 Raptor engines), before changing gears and unveiling its BFR rocket concept (officially known as "Super Heavy" for the first stage, and Starship for the second). Merlins use kerosene and liquid oxygen (LOX) propellants, for example, whereas Raptors use liquid methane and LOX.

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