Published: Tue, February 05, 2019
Money | By Ralph Mccoy

SpaceX successfully test-fires rocket engine Raptor

SpaceX successfully test-fires rocket engine Raptor

These engines will likely power the Starship once its in space as well as the Super Heavy rocket that'll blast off from our planet in the first place.

In a series of tweets, Musk showed off the "Starship Raptor engine" which will push the smaller Starship test vehicle skyward.

Elon Musk and a SpaceX illustration of its Starship rocket on Mars.

Even though the test firing propels the Raptor around the corner past the proof of concept stage, Musk acknowledged there's still plenty of engineering kinks to be ironed out, tweeting that future versions will test other configurations aimed at optimizing thrust both in space and at sea level. Musk said in early January that test flights there could begin in four weeks, "which probably means 8 weeks, due to unforeseen issues".

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The Raptor will represent a technological break for SpaceX engines. In December 2018, Musk tweeted that the Raptor had been "radically redesigned", while not elaborating.

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.

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

The first rocket firing happened right around 1AM Central Time on the morning of Sunday, February 3rd, 2019. Starship - which was renamed from Big Falcon Rocket in November - will use seven of the engines in total. Unlike SpaceX's Merlin engine, which runs on a mixture of RP-1 and LOX, the Raptor engine is fueled by cryogenic liquid methane and LOX.

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