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SpaceX test-fires 'Raptor' rocket that will take humans to Mars

Engadget Engadget 26/09/2016 Steve Dent
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SpaceX has done its first test of the Raptor rocket engine that will take humans to Mars as early as 2024, Elon Musk said in a series of tweets. It was fired at the company's McGregor, Texas facility on a stand that can handle the extreme thrust. Pointing out the "mach diamonds" from the test, Musk said the "production Raptor goal is a specific impulse of 382 seconds and thrust of 3 MN [680,000 pounds]," more than three times that of the current Falcon 9.

With nine of the methane-fueled motors, the Red Dragon rocket will be far more powerful than any current space craft. It'll eventually lift the Mars Colonial Transporter, loaded with 100 tons of cargo, toward the red planet. The company plans to launch an unmanned craft to Mars by 2018 and get humans there by 2024. That's an ambitious target, especially considering its recent launchpad mishap.

Elon Musk will give a speech tomorrow at the International Astronautical Conference in Mexico, titled "Making Humans a Multiplanetary Species." During the talk, he is expected to unveil the design of the Mars Colonial Transporter and overall plan for colonizing the red planet. Musk will also reportedly talk about the budget and try to convince government and the scientific community to help pay for the undertaking. Considering the recent fueling disaster, a successful launch pad test of the Raptor will no doubt help his cause.

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