The competition heats up: A key new detail about SpaceX’s new Raptor rocket engine is revealed.
The only detail about the engine in the release noted it will be capable of generating nearly 300 tons of thrust in vacuum, around four times more powerful than the Merlin 1D. However, it is possible a Raptor engine set could become the baseline for a huge future rocket to be used by SpaceX for missions to Mars, along with a potential role with a Mars ascent stage. [emphasis mine]
It appears that the engine might be intended to replace the Merlin engine entirely, thus giving the Falcon 9 (and other future SpaceX rockets) significantly more power, both for putting payload into orbit as well as returning to the ground.
Meanwhile, it also appears the Chinese, who are SpaceX’s biggest competitor in terms of price, are developing their own methane-oxygen engine with likely similar capabilities.
Ain’t competition wonderful?