Elon Musk has big plans for SpaceX, which include ferrying humans to the International Space Station within the next few years. That’s actually one of the more mundane things Musk sees in SpaceX’s future. The company has just successfully test-fired the Raptor rocket engine, a more powerful design that could take humans to Mars inside of a decade.
The Raptor engine will be an integral part of the SpaceX Interplanetary Transport System, which is the new name for the previously hyped Mars Colonial Transporter. The reason being, Raptor has enough power to send spacecraft far beyond Mars. The engine has a 14-foot nozzle with three times the chamber pressure of the current Merlin engines on the Falcon 9 rocket. SpaceX is targeting a specific impulse of 382 seconds and a thrust of 310 metric tons.
This test was carried out at SpaceX’s McGregor, Texas facility, which is specially equipped to handle the extremely powerful output of this engine. If all goes as planned. SpaceX wants to launch an unmanned mission to Mars in 2018 with the Falcon 9 Heavy rocket. The Raptor could be used to send as much as 100 tons of cargo to Mars ahead of a future manned mission.
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SOURCE: Geek, Ryan Whitwam