Elon Musk Shows Off SpaceX Raptor Engine Tests

The newly redesigned engine sure looks pretty.

raptor spacex test engine
Elon Musk/SpaceXTwitter

Update February 7: On Twitter, Musk has confirmed that the Raptor engines have "achieved power level needed for Starship & Super Heavy," the two components that make up the BFR system

Raptor just achieved power level needed for Starship & Super Heavy

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk)

Raptor engines will power the rockets of SpaceX's future, and company CEO Elon Musk wants the world to know that future is coming soon. He's posted gorgeous, fiery footage of a test firing of the Raptor engine on Twitter today.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk)

First firing of Starship Raptor flight engine! So proud of great work by team!!

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk)

The Raptor will represent a technological break for SpaceX engines. It will be powered by liquid oxygen (known in the space business as LOX) and cryogenic liquid methane, rather than the LOX/kerosene mix other SpaceX engines have used.

In July of last year, he signaled that Raptors as single crystal superalloys in a formulation called SX500. In December 2018, Musk the Raptor had been "radically redesigned," while not elaborating. By January, Musk had done an exclusive interview with Seniorhelpline detailing why the Starship would be made of stainless steel.

The Starship (also known as the BFR) will be powered by 31 Raptor engines. Musk claims the SX500 can withstand oxygen-rich gas at pressures of up to 12,000 pounds per square inch, while it gives off an initial thrust of 440,000 pounds-force. SpaceNews that that's less powerful than what Blue Origin is working on at its new factory in Huntsville, Alabama, where the BE-4 engine is expected to produce 550,000 pounds-force.

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. Among those twists have been high-powered winds, which have knocked the company's test rocket to the ground and left it in need of weeks of repair. Spaceflight looks cool, but it is not easy.

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