SpaceX just fired its Mars rocket engine and it didn’t explode

Andrew Cummings
February 5, 2019

SpaceX has a big year ahead of it as it continues to fulfill rocket launch contracts for clients eager to send stuff into space, but it's the company's Starship project that has gotten the most attention from science fans.

These early tests are vital to Starship's success, but you might remember a couple of weeks back when the Starship was in the headlines for an entirely different reason.

Musk tweeted videos of the tests today from Space X's Texas base.


However, the Starship prototype recently suffered a minor setback, after high winds in Texas blew the top half of the hopper off.

SpaceX conducts its first Raptor rocket engine test at the company's McGregor, Texas proving ground in this video released by CEO Elon Musk on February 3, 2019. While SpaceX plans to develop optimized versions of the Raptor for both the Starship upper stage and the lower booster stage, now called Super Heavy, SpaceX is, for now, working on only a single version of the engine for both.

The Raptor will represent a technological break for SpaceX engines.


He said in December that the engine had undergone a "radical redesign".

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. While this should not have happened, it's precisely to find these pain points that engineers conduct test firings in the first place. That's equivalent to the power of the BE-4 rocket engines that Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin space venture is developing for its New Glenn rocket. SpaceX tested a development version of the Raptor in September 2016, also at the McGregor site.


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