Watch SpaceX fire up Starship's furious new Raptor Vacuum engine

Elon Musk's company shares footage of some really hot stuff.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser

This is SpaceX's new Raptor Vacuum engine lighting up during a test. 

Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET

SpaceX is hopping these days. Not only is Elon Musk's company rapidly developing Starship prototypes and sending them into the air, it's also hitting the gas on developing its new Raptor Vacuum engine, which is optimized for use in space. 

The company tweeted some ferocious footage of "a full-duration test fire of the Raptor Vacuum engine at SpaceX's rocket development facility in McGregor, Texas" on Thursday. It's a blast.

Watch carefully and you'll notice a small flare before the full engine kicks in. "Preburners ignite, then main chamber," Musk explained on Twitter.

The Raptor engines are designed to get the next-generation Starship into orbit. But SpaceX is looking well beyond Earth and has its eyes on the moon and eventual journeys to Mars. It's going to need some powerful engines to make those goals happen.

To get an idea of the difference between a regular Raptor that's made to function well at sea level and the Raptor Vacuum, check out SpaceX's photo showing a human for scale

Notice the radical difference in size between the bell-shaped sections. Starship could end up using a mix of the engines.  

Engine tests are some of the most spectacular moments in spacecraft development. A fiesta of fiery energy and a preview of the Earth-shaking launches lie ahead for SpaceX as it aims to send Starship into orbit. 

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