SpaceX celebrates the season with a Holiday-themed Raptor engine
December 16, 2019 • Evelyn J. Arevalo
Source: Elon Musk
‘Tis’ the season to be jolly! Fa la la la la, la la laa!’ SpaceX aims to create a future where humans live in a spacefaring civilization, they envision frequent flights from Mars to Earth and vice versa. The CEO of SpaceX, Elon Musk, shared a photograph of Starship’s new Raptor engine, decorated with colorful lights and a shiny star atop to celebrate the holiday season, captioned:
“Raptor is making great progress! Just finished an engineering review with SpaceX Propulsion. Engine SN 17 is about to ship to McGregor with some holiday style.”
This Raptor engine will be shipped to SpaceX's facility in McGregor, Texas in order to be tested. Once tested it will be mounted on a new prototype of their next-generation stainless-steel spacecraft, Starship.
Raptor is making great progress! Just finished an engineering review with SpaceX Propulsion. Engine SN 17 is about to ship to McGregor with some holiday style 🎄😀 pic.twitter.com/3JNIyxY9H0— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 14, 2019
The Raptor is a new kind of rocket engine developed and manufactured by SpaceX. Each Raptor is 1.3 meters in diameter, with a height of 3.1 meters. Unlike most rockets which are powered by kerosene, Raptor engines are powered by a combination of cryogenic methane and cryogenic liquid oxygen in a full flow staged combustion cycle --a true innovation in the aerospace industry. Musk stated:
“Other rocket engines were designed for no (or almost no) reuse. Raptor is designed for heavy and immediate reuse, like an aircraft jet engine, with inspections required only after many flights, assuming instrumentation shows it good. Using hydrostatic bearings certainly helps.”
The Raptor engine is special, designed to enable astronauts to set up refueling stations on Mars upon arrival because they are powered by methane and liquid oxygen. So Future Martians could dig water ice from the Red Planet's soil and capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, in order to synthesize methane and liquid oxygen by using using electrolysis and the Sabatier process to create fuel.
Starship will be a reusable spacecraft, the first prototypes are currently under development in Texas and Florida. It will be a two-stage craft that consists of a spaceship and a Super Heavy rocket booster. Starship will be capable of carrying 100 passengers and over 100 tons of cargo powered by 6 Raptor engines with propellant capacity of up to 1,200 tons that will enable long-duration voyages to the Moon and Mars. The craft's 6 engines will consist of 3 sea level raptors designed for atmospheric flight, and 3 vacuum optimized Raptors for propulsion in space. The Raptor engine could produce over 200 tons of thrust at full throttle!
The Super Heavy rocket will only be used to launch Starship out of Earth's atmosphere then be brought back from orbit to land at a spaceport, powered by up to 37 Raptor engines. According to Musk, each mission will probably require at least 24 Raptors, the number of engines would vary from flight to flight. The gigantic rocket will have a propellant capacity of 3,300 metric tons.
The thrust capability of all Raptors combined would be approximately 72 meganewtons (MN), this will make SpaceX's Starship the world's most powerful rocket in comparison to the 35 MN thrust of Saturn V rocket that took humans to the moon during NASA's Apollo mission.
We will witness the Raptor engines' power as soon as next year, when SpaceX tests their Starship prototypes with 3 to 6 Raptors. Guaranteed to be exciting!
About the Author
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.