Elon Musk Just Test-Fired a Rocket Engine to Bring People to Mars

Feb 5, 2019

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Humankind might have just gotten one step closer to visiting Mars.

SpaceX, Elon Musk’s aerospace manufacturer and space tourism venture, just test-fired the flight version of its new Raptor rocket engine for the first time.

“First firing of Starship Raptor flight engine!” Musk said in his Tweet. “So proud of great work by @SpaceX team!!” The new raptor rocket engine will join SpaceX’s growing fleet, which includes Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy and Dragon series of spacecraft.

Musk also tweeted out videos of the test, which shows the engine that will power Starship — a stainless-steel space vehicle built that can carry up to 100 passengers — in action. The test lasted for about three seconds and took place at the SpaceX development facility in McGregor, Texas on Sunday.

Aviation Week said the test fire was “a key step toward the start of flight tests of a multipurpose, interplanetary-class space transportation system.” SpaceX plans to start low-altitude flight tests of a Starship prototype later this year at its site in Boca Chica, Texas.

Starship will launch off the giant rocket, Super Heavy via Raptor power. SpaceX expects the duo will be able to take people and cargo to Mars, the moon and beyond. Starship will use seven of the methane-burning engines, and Super Heavy will use 31 Raptors to break the 62-mile barrier into space. Each Raptor engine provides 200 metric tons of force.

So, for those of you who want to get far, far away for your next vacation — the wait to go to space seems to be shortening. As of now, SpaceX is aiming to fly passengers around the moon by 2023 and have flights to Mars by the mid-2020s. So far Japanese billionaire, Yusaku Maezawa, has already been announced as one of these lucky passengers planned to take the revolutionary trip.

Featured image by Robyn Beck-Pool/Getty Images.

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