Watch SpaceX fire up its furious new Raptor Vacuum engine


This is SpaceX’s new Raptor Vacuum engine lighting up during a test. 

Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET

SpaceX is hopping these days. Not only is Elon Musk’s company rapidly developing Starship prototypes and sending them into the air, it’s also hitting the gas on the development of its new Raptor Vacuum engine, an engine optimized for use in space. 

The company tweeted some ferocious footage of “a full-duration test fire of the Raptor Vacuum engine at SpaceX’s rocket development facility in McGregor, Texas” on Thursday. It’s a blast.

Watch carefully and you’ll notice a small flare before the full engine kicks in. “Preburners ignite, then main chamber,” Musk explained on Twitter.

The Raptor engines are designed to get the next-generation Starship into orbit. But SpaceX is looking well beyond Earth and has its eyes on the moon and eventual journeys to Mars. It’s going to need some powerful engines to make those goals happen.

To get an idea of the difference between a regular Raptor that’s made to function well at sea level and the Raptor Vacuum, check out SpaceX’s photo showing a human for scale

Notice the radical difference in size between the bell-shaped sections. Starship could end up using a mix of the engines.  

Engine tests are some of the most spectacular moments in spacecraft development. A fiesta of fiery energy and a preview of the Earth-shaking launches lie ahead for SpaceX as it aims to send Starship into orbit. 

Go to Publisher: CNET News
Author: Amanda Kooser