SpaceX Targets Less Than $1000 per Ton Force Raptor Engine

Elon Musk says the SpaceX Raptor engine needs to be 10X lower cost. Order of magnitude change is good reason for a new name. He says what really matters is not yet another “advanced” rocket engine. There has never been a cheap (less than $1000/Ton-force) rocket engine.

The SpaceX Raptor engine will have about 250 tons of force. This means the engines are currently about $2-2.5 million and will reach $250,000 or less.

The SpaceX Super Heavy will have about 29-33 engines and the Starship will have 7 engines. The cost of all of the engines for a complete SpaceX Super Heavy Starship will be less than $10 million. Currently, the cost of all of the engines is about $100 million.

SOURCES- Elon Musk, Wikipedia
Written by Brian Wang,

14 thoughts on “SpaceX Targets Less Than $1000 per Ton Force Raptor Engine”

  1. comparing in direct relation with power output (without obeying flying distances or heights, powering repetition or service life) these USD13M enable about 35 Ton force, that's about $350,000 per Ton force.
    Dry weight comparison is 1.5t for Raptor engine and 6.2t for Trent 900.

  2. Elon has said that future Raptors will have a lot fewer sensors and wiring for testing and monitoring operation, making the engine look a lot 'cleaner'.

    Increased automation to reduce human labor time can also cut costs. 3D printing multi-functional parts would both reduce part count and increase automation.

  3. That is going to come from a further reduction in the parts count. The have already reduced the parts from the first gen to the present one, so perhaps they have plans to continue in that direction.

  4. All the Starships going one way to Mars will need replacements (with associated raptors). You are correct that once the Super Heavy Fleet and earth based Starship fleet is built out there will be very little new builds for raptors though.

  5. Trent 900 type turbine is officially reported (Rolls-Royce) for about 13000 flying hours between major overhaul. This 7 million miles on an A380 with four turbines that are suitable for 50t (datasheets 66t, top 84t) payload (on average 7500mi non-stop range, top 9200mi), each flying hour USD ~25k-50k for direct operating cost, makes 538mi/hr, USD1-2 for each t payload on each mile for direct cost or 4*USD13M/(7M mi*50t) = USD0.15 per mile and ton for investment cost for the turbines (Emirates Airlines signed contract including long-term service for ~46M$ each Trent 97x). On a 2018 list price for an A380 investment cost included with 450M$/(350M*t*mi)*(13000hours/42000hours ,42khrs=~12yrs duty for (slow) investment payoff time compared to 'commonly' 5-7-10yrs and 30yrs service life) an (expensive) airliner's payload might result to an altogether USD1.3-2.2 each ton and mile?
    Assuming a necessary LEO-GTO (200-800km height above ground) comparable distance, this would result to a USD260-1750 for each ton of payload (but USD31-212 for each ton moved, including aircraft) on common airway profiles?

  6. Boeing will certainly never be able to make a rocket as cheap as their airplanes.

    But if SpaceX can make a much cheaper rocket than Boeing, maybe if SpaceX designed airplanes, they could eventually make a cheaper one too?

    I also think it's difficult, would need to see aircraft prices slices by type of component. How much for the fuselage, for the landing system? For the turbines?

    I mean… as an EXAMPLE, SpaceX is moving the landing system FROM THE CRAFT to the tower. If we could remove landing gear from airplanes and each airport have a "catching mechanism", how cheaper would each plane be?

    And if we could reduce turbine price by 10x?

  7. As O'Neill points out, launch is the *hard* part. "their own interplanetary mission(s)", or even stuff to help the Earth, like Space Solar, that cannot be done from Mars. $$$$

  8. They are really thinking about making Starships in series and very cheap for space and aviation standards.

    Hundreds of Starships per year will need thousands of these, and it isn't that feasible if they are several million USD a piece.

    If they manage it, private citizens could one day pool resources and buy a Starship (new or slightly used) for making their own interplanetary mission(s).

    Of course, it would be safer if it was a dedicated company the one ferrying people most of the time, given the need of maintenance and logistics, but as the space launcher industry evolves, wealthy individuals could also make their dent on space travel history.

    This me thinks, would require a level of confidence on the launchers we are just trying to get a grasp on.

  9. It’s not like you can simplify design and thus assembly by getting rid of a compressor or turbo pump here, a valve there, etc. to lower the cost. Perhaps even more mass production will bring the price down a little, but not much any manufacturing changes.

  10. No, I don't Believe that a two stage chemical rocket this size will ever be 15 times cheaper than a commercial airliner. I definitely will not refer to it as a fact.

  11. If you needed 10,000 engines a year it would help with economies of scale. With reusability there are not going to be significant economies of scale. What next, a confluence of AI,robotics, and 3D printing?


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