Visionary tech company SpaceX has just tested out its new Raptor engine. This powerful propulsion is the one they plan on using to send their manned mission to Mars. Elon Musk, the mastermind behind SpaceX published a few pictures showing the Raptor engine at work. According to Musk, this is the first step in ensuring humanity will survive.
So far, all of Musk’s statement have focused on the bigger picture of the Mars mission. He hasn’t released a lot of details regarding the actual specs of equipment. What we do know about the Raptor engine is that it has about 500.000 pounds of force during liftoff. That’s about as much as the Space Shuttles engines. It’s also going to use liquid methane instead of kerosene as a propellant.
The Raptor engine came to the testing facility in Texas some months ago. But the beast is still shrouded in mystery. Nobody knows, for example, how many people are going to work on launching the SpaceX rocket.
The mission itself doesn’t have a set date. Musk has stated, however, numerous times that he wants to send a crew to Mars as early as 2024. But before he can send humans to the Red Planet, SpaceX will perform a series of missions that should begin in 2018. Apparently, apart from collecting data, the goal of these missions is to drop supplies on the planet’s surface, before the colonists arrive.
The Raptor Engine – Humanity’s Only Hope for Survival
Because that is Musk’s ultimate plan: to be able to colonize the Red Planet. Musk has stated that the only way to ensure the survival of the human species is by colonizing Mars. The visionary billionaire brought his company to the brink of bankruptcy for this belief in 2008. He maintains that 1 million people are necessary to make the plan work.
Even the newly revealed Raptor engine is optimized to work on Mars. Methane gas is not as powerful as kerosene. But as one former SpaceX engineer claimed, it is much cheaper. And its readily available on Mars.
He argued that that using Mars’ own supply of methane gas could help the ship collect more samples from the planet. The idea is that the rocket would only have to carry enough fuel to take it one way. Once it’s there, it can freely collect samples, and harvest the planet’s bountiful resources for the trip home.
When compared with Merlin engine, the engine used by Falcon 9 rockets, the Raptor engine looks much more impressive. Unlike the Raptor engine, the Merlin engine uses kerosene. The two are more or less the same size, and yet the Raptor has three times the chamber pressure of a Merlin. In other words, it’s three times more powerful than a Falcon 9 engine.
Last year, Musk claimed that the first major goal in these series of Mars missions is to get 100 people and about as many tons of equipment to the planet. A regular Falcon 9 uses 9 engines to get into space, without that much gear or people on it. So far, one can only wonder how many Raptor engines are needed to help the interplanetary transport device reach its destination with that much weight on it.
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