NASA Space Flight website indicates that Spacex is advancing towards a larger Raptor engine to enable more Mars related capability.
Tom Mueller, head of Spacex rocket engine development, has his main focus being the development of the reusable Raptor engine. It will use liquid methane and oxygen to achieve 1 million pounds of thrust. Nine of them will be combined on one rocket. It will put over 100 tons of cargo to Mars.
Raptor’s current design is to have 1Mlbf (4,500kN) gas-gas (full flow) liquid methane and oxygen engine, with an isp of 321s at sea level 363s at vacuum.
Mr. Mueller confirmed nine of these engines would power each 10 meter diameter core of the notional MCT (Mars Colonization Transport). The 9 million pounds of thrust would be more than the first stage of the Saturn V (7.68 million pounds)
SpaceX Co-Founder and Vice President of Propulsion Development Tom Mueller has revealed the company is deep into the development of the first “full flow methane-liquid oxygen” rocket engine. Known as the Raptor, nine of these immensely powerful engines – on one or three cores – will be utilized to send SpaceX’s Super Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle (SHLV) uphill on missions to Mars.
Spacex has previously considered a Merlin 2 rocket. The Merlin 2 engine, would have been capable of a projected 7,600 kN (1,700,000 lbf) of thrust at sea level and 8,500 kN (1,920,000 lbf) in a vacuum. The engine would have been the most efficient of its kind, with specific impulse (a measure of the efficiency of propellant usage) being even better than the current Merlin 1D.
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