Tag Archives: Raptor

SpaceX prepares to test its next generation rocket engine

The competition heats up: SpaceX’s first Raptor rocket engine has now been built and has been shipped to the company’s test facility in Texas to begin testing.

The Raptor is SpaceX’s next generation of rocket engine. It may be as much as three times more powerful than the Merlin engines that power its Falcon 9 rocket and will also be used in the Falcon Heavy rocket that may fly in late 2016 or early 2017. The Raptor will power SpaceX’s next generation of rocket after the Falcon Heavy, the so-called Mars Colonial Transporter.

Although official details regarding the Raptor engine remain scarce, SpaceX founder Elon Musk has suggested the engine will have a thrust of about 500,000 pounds, roughly the same power as a space shuttle’s main engines. Whereas the shuttle was powered by three main engines and two booster rockets, however, it is believed the large rocket SpaceX uses to colonize Mars would likely be powered by a cluster of nine Raptor engines.

Like I said in my previous post, the rest of this decade should be very exciting in space, and that excitement will have be because of private enterprise and freedom, not NASA’s fake mission to Mars, with Orion.

Battle of the heavy lift rockets

Check out this very detailed and informative look at unstated competiton between NASA’s SLS rocket and SpaceX’s heavy lift rocket plans that are even more powerful than the Falcon Heavy.

Key quote: “It is clear SpaceX envisions a rocket far more powerful than even the fully evolved Block 2 SLS – a NASA rocket that isn’t set to be launched until the 2030s.”

The SpaceX rocket hinges on whether the company can successfully build its new Raptor engine. If they do, they will have their heavy lift rocket in the air and functioning far sooner than NASA, and for far far far less money.

SpaceX has signed a deal to have its new Raptor engine tested at NASA’s Stennis Space Center.

The competition heats up: SpaceX has signed a deal to have its new Raptor engine tested at NASA’s Stennis Space Center.

This is a good use of these government facilities, providing a service and also making money for the government.

Some new details about SpaceX’s new Raptor rocket engine are revealed.

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?