SpaceX Gets Ready to Test the Engine That Will Take Us to Mars
Cernescu Andrei / 5 years ago
Ever since the famed Moon Landing, we’ve been wondering what planet will we be able to visit next, and it definitely looks like Mars is the most likely candidate. Even though setting foot on Mars is definitely not going to be an easy task, it’s good to hear that privately funded companies such as SpaceX are taking steps in the right direction. Actually, SpaceX is getting ready to test the engine that will take us to Mars, as Gwynne Shotwell recently made this announcement at the Small Satellite Conference in Utah. Dubbed Raptor, the engine is being moved to a Texas facility for testing, and sources indicate that it could be up to three times more powerful than the Merlin engines that currently power SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets.
Precise details regarding the engine are scarce right now, but Elon Musk hinted that Raptor has a thrust rating of about 500,000 pounds, which is pretty close to the engines that are being used on space shuttles. The difference is that shuttles rely on three main engines complemented by two booster rockets, while a future Mars Colonial Transporter could include as many as nine Raptor engines. If everything goes according to plan, SpaceX could send an unmanned vehicle to Mars by 2018, while manned trips could be possible sometime in 2024.