Skip to Content
Space

SpaceX just test-fired the huge engine for its newest rocket

With a thunderous roar, the “radically redesigned” Raptor rocket engine has had its first firing—and will be attached to the firm’s Starship soon.
February 4, 2019
Twitter | Elon Musk

With a deep roar and a flash of light, SpaceX’s new and improved Raptor engine underwent its first test firing over the weekend. CEO Elon Musk tweeted out a series of videos that captured the engine fire creating a deafening noise.

The engine will be used by SpaceX for its Starship rocket (formerly known as the BFR, Big Falcon Rocket, and Interplanetary Transport System). The first test of the developmental Raptor engines occurred back in 2016, but this weekend’s test at the company’s site in Texas is the first of the flight-ready engines, which Musk called “radically redesigned.” They use methane and liquid oxygen to get their thrust, similar to Blue Origin’s most powerful engine, the BE-4.

The engines could get their first true test later this year, when SpaceX plans to attach three of the engines to the Starship rocket to “hop” around low altitudes. The final rocket is planned to have seven engines, while the booster it’s strapped to will have another 31.

The company’s goals for this rocket are big: Musk hopes it will make missions to the moon and Mars. Last year SpaceX announced it had its first paying moon passenger for the Starship rocket.

But the company has promised us moon tourists before. While they were never named, two people apparently paid deposits for trips to the moon aboard the Falcon Heavy rocket by the end of 2018. Those plans were scrapped in favor of waiting to put tourists aboard the Starship, so don’t hold your breath for an on-time departure this time around either.

Deep Dive

Space

Illustration of DART
Illustration of DART

NASA is going to slam a spacecraft into an asteroid. Things might get chaotic.

A new simulation shows that when the DART mission hits the target asteroid, it could send it spinning and wobbling in a dramatic way.

spacex starlink
spacex starlink

Who is Starlink really for?

The boom in LEO satellites will probably change the lives of customers who’ve struggled for high-speed internet—but only if they can afford it.

crew of Inspiration 4 mission
crew of Inspiration 4 mission

Netflix’s SpaceX docuseries misses the mark on Inspiration4

"Countdown" is an exclusive dive into the first all-civilian mission into orbit, but it spends too much time as a free advertisement for SpaceX.

Astronomy Decadal Report
Astronomy Decadal Report

This AI could predict 10 years of scientific priorities—if we let it

The Decadal Survey, expected at the end of September, sets the tone for a new era of space exploration. One team of researchers wants the survey to use AI to forecast growing science fields.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.