Elon Musk shares first test firing of SpaceX's Raptor flight engine

Gladys Abbott
February 5, 2019

The company has test-fired the flight version of its new Raptor rocket engine for the first time, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk announced yesterday (Feb. 3).

Space X's Starship Raptor rocket engine is part of the company's ambition to transport humans to the moon and beyond.

SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk announced the test in a series of tweets late February 3, a couple hours after observers near the company's test site in McGregor, Texas, has seen and heard what appeared to be an engine test of some kind.

However, the Starship prototype recently suffered a minor setback, after high winds in Texas blew the top half of the hopper off. In December 2018, Musk tweeted that the Raptor had been "radically redesigned", while not elaborating. "When asked about the color, Musk explained on Twitter, "[The] engine use methox torch igniters.

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The first launches of the full-scale Starship-Super Heavy duo could follow in relatively short order.

Despite Musk being clearly pleased with the "great work" his team have done on this project, SpaceX laid off around 10% of its workforce, or more than 600 employees, in January. Among those twists have been high-powered winds, which have knocked the company's test rocket to the ground and leaving it in need of weeks of fix.

SpaceX has been developing the Raptor engine over the last few years as part of its plan to eventually send tourists to Mars.

The recent test wasn't the first firing of any kind of Raptor. 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.

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