Elon Musk on Twitter: SpaceX achieves first Raptor firing for interplanetary engine
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Elon Musk gives President Barack Obama a tour of SpaceX. Photo credit: YouTube

Elon Musk gives President Barack Obama a tour of SpaceX. Photo credit: YouTube

Starting tomorrow, we just might be one step closer to living on Mars

Just one day before his long-anticipated presentation on SpaceX’s plans to get to Mars, Elon Musk teased the world with a couple tweets bragging that the company’s interplanetary propuslion system, the Raptor, had achieved a successful test firing in McGregor, Texas.

Raptor is the first in a series of methane and oxygen-fueled rocket engines designed for interplanetary travel, and it is probably no coincidence at all that Musk made the announcement on the eve of his big presentation. It is designed for the second and third stage propulsion of SpaceX’s future rockets, with a particular focus on the Mars Colonial Transport Architecture. A variation of the engine is being developed with partial support from the US Air Force.

The Falcon 9 currently uses Merlin 1C and D engines. Musk also said on Twitter that the “chamber pressure is almost 3X Merlin, so [the] engine is about the same size for a given area ratio.” He added the current goal in Raptor production is an impulse of 382 seconds and a thrust of about 310 metric tons, higher than the 230 figure he gave on Reddit last year. The 1C has an impulse of 304 seconds and the 1D of 309 seconds.

Musk is scheduled to deliver a talk at the International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico on Tuesday. That monologue, titled “Making Humans a Multiplanetary Species,” has people anticipating a full presentation of SpaceX’s current development projects and initial schedule for sending probes and probably people to Mars on a private mission.

The Mars Colonial Transport has not been unveiled to the public yet, though it is expected that will change tomorrow with Musk’s presentation.

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