Elon Musk shows off first firing of SpaceX's Starship Raptor engine

Elon Musk shows off first firing of SpaceX's Starship Raptor engine

The Raptor engine uses a less conventional propellant than the Merlin engine SpaceX developed to power its workhorse Falcon 9 rocket.

SpaceX has a big year ahead of it as it continues to fulfill rocket launch contracts for clients eager to send stuff into space, but it's the company's Starship project that has gotten the most attention from science fans.

Two videos show the full force of the rocket.

SpaceX conducts its first Raptor rocket engine test at the company's McGregor, Texas proving ground in this video released by CEO Elon Musk on February 3, 2019.

This isn't, therefore, the first time the Raptor engine has ever been fired - SpaceX has fired individual components before and experimented with various designs. There'd eventually be 31 Raptors powering the reusable Super Heavy, and seven Raptors on the Starship.

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Yesterday Musk tweeted a picture of himself next to the rocket engine as it was prepared for testing.

'Next versions will split to vacuum-optimized (380+ sec Isp) & sea level-thrust optimized (~250 ton)'. In December 2018, Musk tweeted that the Raptor had been "radically redesigned", while not elaborating.

The entire hollow nosecone broke off, and at the time, Musk said it would take a few weeks to fix. SpaceX tested a development version of the Raptor in September 2016, also at the McGregor site.

Those unforeseen issues include high winds the toppled the upper, nose cone section of the vehicle last month.

At the time, Musk noted that it might take "a few weeks" to fix the damage the spacecraft sustained, but remained upbeat about the project.

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