The modified Spacex Falcon 9 can get as cheap as $1233 per pound to launch to low earth orbit. The larger Spacex Falcon Heavy could reach $750 per pound to launch to low earth orbit.
The Raptor prototype upper-stage engine is a bipropellant rocket engine being developed by SpaceX for a US Air Force contract issued in January 2016.
The upper-stage prototype is to utilize the full-flow staged combustion engine cycle and same methalox propellants of the Raptor rocket engine that SpaceX has been developing since at least 2009.
In January 2016, the US Air Force (USAF) awarded a US$33.6 million development contract to SpaceX to develop a prototype version of its methane-fueled reusable Raptor engine for use on the upper stage of the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launch vehicles. The contract requires double-matching funding by SpaceX of at least US$67.3 million. The prototype is expected to complete testing in 2018.
Raptor is the first member of a family of cryogenic methane-fueled rocket engines under development by SpaceX. It is specifically intended to power high-performance lower and upper stages for SpaceX super-heavy launch vehicles. The engine will be powered by liquid methane and liquid oxygen (LOX), rather than the RP-1 kerosene and LOX used in all previous Falcon 9 rockets, which use Merlin 1C and 1D engines. Earlier concepts for Raptor would have used liquid hydrogen (LH2) fuel rather than methane.
The broader Raptor concept “is a highly reusable methane staged-combustion engine that will power the next generation of SpaceX launch vehicles designed for the exploration and colonization of Mars”. According to Elon Musk, this design will be able to achieve full reusability (all rocket stages) and, as a result, “a two order of magnitude reduction in the cost of spaceflight.
- 3D printing of rocket parts could enable engine designs with simpler designs and few parts. This could ultimately contribute to reducing launch costs by 50%.
- The reuse of the first rocket stage could reduce costs by about 40% initially.
- Full reusability of all rocket stages could reduce launch costs by 100 times.
SOURCES- Spacex, Wikipedia
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.