Lifting all the gear needed to colonize Mars off the face of the Earth is going to involve some serious firepower, and SpaceX has just tested out an important piece of the puzzle. A flight version of the Raptor engine that will serve as a primary building block for the company's Starship spacecraft was engaged for the first time today, as it targets the first grasshopper test flights in the coming months.
The Starship spacecraft, up until recently known as the Big Falcon Rocket (BFR), is designed to one day carry 100 people to Mars. Intended to be fully reusable, the stainless steel vehicle will measure 55 m (180 ft) long and will launch atop SpaceX's Super Heavy rocket booster (also reusable), which is powerful enough to lift 100-metric-ton-payloads into low-Earth orbit and beyond.
SpaceX recently completed a prototype of the Starship at its facility in Texas, which it hopes to use to conduct grasshopper tests within the Earth's atmosphere in the coming months, though recent wind damage may see this pushed back. The prototype features three of SpaceX's Raptor engines, though the final design for the Starship calls for seven, and the Super Heavy booster for a total of 31.
The company has now engaged the very first of these engines at the same Texas facility, with a video shared by CEO Elon Musk on Twitter showing the engine firing up spectacularly for a short burst lasting a few seconds, complete with camera shakes and all.
"First firing of Starship Raptor flight engine!" he tweeted. "So proud of great work by @SpaceX team!!"
Source: Twitter (Elon Musk)
Want a cleaner, faster loading and ad free reading experience?
Try New Atlas Plus. Learn more