Elon Musk is famous and notorious for his very ambitious schedules. So he wants to fly the first humans in the year 2025 on the Mars . The NASA experts, however, are much more restrained: they aim for flights in the 2030s . In the US state of Texas, Musk company SpaceX has now successfully tested the prototype of a heavy-duty rocket that will later take people to the red planet. However, the flight did not go very far: the barrel-shaped structure rose 150 meters into the air, then flew about 100 meters and then landed precisely on the ground. Of course Musk thinks a bit further. He tweeted : "One day the spaceship will land on the rust-colored sand of Mars."
The new engine is powered by liquid methane
At the heart of the prototype is a liquid rocket engine developed by SpaceX called Raptor. It uses liquid oxygen and liquid methane as fuel. The use of methane is useful for two reasons. On the one hand, it achieves very high efficiency. This in turn means that more payload can be transported with the same amount of fuel. In addition, methane can be recovered and harnessed on Mars. Thus, the fuel for the return flight does not have to be carried from the beginning. Instead, theoretically, the payload can be further increased. In addition, SpaceX engineers have introduced a new kind of ignition. Usually, this is done by mixing two liquids that ignite on contact. The Raptor engine, on the other hand, has an electrical ignition system, which makes handling easier in the long term.
The first test flight triggered a forest fire
Compared with the currently used Merlin engines, the Raptor drive currently has about twice the thrust. Over time, however, the performance is to be further increased, so that at the end of a tripling of the thrust is achieved. Before that, the engineers involved want to gain and evaluate a large amount of new data. This was also the test flight of the Star Hopper now used. Without incident, this was not. Because at the landing, a pressure bottle dissolved and flew away. However, this is not uncommon in tests at this early stage. The first test flight in July, however, had much more serious consequences: The Starhopper triggered a forest fire, which spread to an adjacent wildlife sanctuary. In the future, however, the prototype will not fly anymore: it will become a test rig for Raptor engines on the ground.
More about the plans of SpaceX on Mars:
SpaceX: Elon Musk presents updated plans for Mars colonization
SpaceX: So the company introduces itself to the Mars landing
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SpaceX: Elon Musk wants to bring one million people to Mars within 40 years
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