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

Roman Schwartz
February 5, 2019

"First firing of Starship Raptor flight engine!"

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.

The Raptor let out a thunderous roar as it fired up.

Elon Musk on Sunday tweeted videos and pictures revealing the first firing of the new Raptor rocket engine that will power SpaceX's prototype Starship, the vehicle created to carry humans on quick hops across the world and eventually to Mars.

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Elon Musk and a SpaceX illustration of its Starship rocket on Mars. Starship will sport seven of the new engines, and Super Heavy will use 31 Raptors to get off the ground. As Business Insider reports, the engine underwent a radical redesign and is capable of 200 metric tons of thrust.

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. While this should not have happened, it's precisely to find these pain points that engineers conduct test firings in the first place.

The Raptor engine is quite a bit different than the Merlin, which powers SpaceX's Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets.

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

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