SpaceX lighted up the Texas coast yet again by launching an engine not meant to be used on the ground.
The company tested one of its Raptor Vacuum engines attached to a Starship prototype for the first time. It is a significant step in the company’s quest to reach Mars, as this larger engine model will propel the gigantic vehicle once it reaches outer space.
SpaceX shared a video of the test firing on its social media platforms of the SN20 (serial number 20) test Starship at its Boca Chica, Texas facility Starbase.
The company’s next-generation vehicle, Starship, is meant to transport passengers and cargo to the Moon and Mars. For the first time in May, it flew to great heights and returned safely. The Raptor engines that propelled this test flight are sea-level variants, with smaller nozzles to effectively release exhaust gas and create thrust to lift the rocket at sea level atmospheric conditions.
Since there is a lack of atmospheric pressure in space, the engine nozzles performing this function can be significantly larger, generating much greater thrust. As a result, three sea-level Raptor engines and three vacuum Raptor engines with substantially larger nozzles will power the Starship’s upper stage, something SpaceX began testing last year.
One of these vacuum Raptor engines was installed into the Starship and successfully test-fired for the first time during recent tests.
Meanwhile, the Super Heavy rocket, the final version of the Starship’s bottom stage, will use over 30 Raptor engines to lift 100 million tons into Earth orbit, making it the most powerful launch vehicle to date.
Company founder Elon Musk posted to Twitter that he is hopeful that the launch will come as early as November.
“If all goes well, Starship will be ready for its first orbital launch attempt next month, pending regulatory approval,” Musk wrote.
Source: Twitter (SpaceX)