SpaceX Starship now has three monster Raptor engines installed

Elon Musk shares more progress on the Starship prototype ahead of Saturday's update.

Jackson Ryan Former Science Editor
Jackson Ryan was CNET's science editor, and a multiple award-winning one at that. Earlier, he'd been a scientist, but he realized he wasn't very happy sitting at a lab bench all day. Science writing, he realized, was the best job in the world -- it let him tell stories about space, the planet, climate change and the people working at the frontiers of human knowledge. He also owns a lot of ugly Christmas sweaters.
Jackson Ryan
2 min read

Three engines are better than one.

Elon Musk

Elon Musk's Mars rocket is really coming together. Construction of the interplanetary spaceship is taking place at SpaceX's Boca Chica facility in Texas and, after giving us a glimpse of the prototype's fins on Monday, the SpaceX CEO has pulled back the curtain on the Starship Mk.1 fitted with three Raptor engines. 

The Raptor engines are monstrous liquid-liquid rocket engines which use methane and oxygen to power SpaceX's upcoming launch vehicles. They will be used in SpaceX's next-generation rocket, which contains two stages: The Super Heavy first stage, which lifts it into orbit, and the Starship second stage, which takes it through the void of space.

The Raptor engine ticked off a major milestone recently, launching the Starhopper protoype ship to an altitude of around 150 meters in a brief test flight. Musk tweeted on Sept. 26 that the current prototype is "quite a complex beast" but he expects it will launch within "a month or so."

The SpaceX CEO has discussed the Raptor engine requirements in the past, explaining how the proposed interplanetary Starship requires an engine that can put out at least 170 tons of force. Previous testing showed a single engine reaching 172 tons of force, but it's now pushing 200. The Starship will be attached to the top of the Super Heavy rocket, which will likely have up to 31 Raptor engines strapped to its bottom. Crazy to think about. 

After sharing the rapid advances in Starship construction this week, Musk is expected to discuss progress on the prototype in greater detail on Saturday, Sept. 28, at a special event. The conference will mark the 11 year anniversary of SpaceX first reaching orbit. 

Elon Musk Shows Off the Shiny SpaceX Starship

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