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SpaceX is ready to test its new Mars rocket engine

The next-generation rocket engine has been shipped to the company's test site in Texas.

Luke Lancaster Associate Editor / Australia
Luke Lancaster is an Associate Editor with CNET, based out of Australia. He spends his time with games (both board and video) and comics (both reading and writing).
Luke Lancaster
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SpaceX has Mars in its sights.


Elon Musk's space company has set itself the lofty goal of reaching Mars and is ready to test the rockets it expects will get it there.

The Raptor rocket engine has been shipped to the company's test site in Texas, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell revealed Tuesday at a keynote address at the Small Satellite Conference.

"We just shipped the first Raptor engine to Texas last night," Shotwell said. "We should be firing it soon."

SpaceX confirmed that the rocket engine is ready to be tested. The Raptor, which will drive the rockets bound for Mars, is projected to be more than three times more powerful than the Merlin engines attached to the company's current Falcon 9 rockets.

While the company's current Falcon Heavy, which will be the world's most powerful rocket when it launches later this year, is capable of sending cargo and astronauts to Mars as well, it's the Raptor that will be attached to the generation of rocket after the Falcon Heavy, known colloquially as the BFR. And yes, BFR stands for exactly what you think it does.