SpaceX just fired its new Starship engine and it sure was neat

Elon Musk with rocket engine

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk checks out the nozzle of a full-scale Raptor rocket engine in advance of its first test firing

SpaceX conducts its first Raptor rocket engine test at the company's McGregor, Texas proving ground in this video released by CEO Elon Musk on February 3, 2019.

However, the Starship prototype recently suffered a minor setback, after high winds in Texas blew the top half of the hopper off. The booster, which SpaceX has taken to calling Super Heavy, will be equipped with dozens of the high-powered rocket engines to give the Starship enough oomph to push it into space.

To publicly show the first test fire following the design changes and have it work perfectly will be of great encouragement to the SpaceX team.

The entire hollow nosecone broke off, and at the time, Musk said it would take a few weeks to fix.

The Starship project, which SpaceX expects to become its main family of spacecraft and carry passengers to Mars, has been going through twists and turns at the company's Boca Chica, Texas facility. There'd eventually be 31 Raptors powering the reusable Super Heavy, and seven Raptors on the Starship. This hopper will debut soon, Musk has said - perhaps within the next month or so, if everything goes according to plan.

SpaceX has been working on the Raptor engine, powered by methane and liquid oxygen propellants, for several years, and conducted the first test of a developmental version of the engine in September 2016.

Separate follow-on versions would be customized for use on the Starship or on the Super Heavy, packing a punch of as much as 550,000 pounds each at liftoff.

The recent test wasn't the first firing of any kind of Raptor. And the flight Raptor will boast about twice the thrust of the Merlin version that powers the Falcon 9.

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