SpaceX founder Elon Musk shared the latest Starship photos to his Twitter timeline, followed by more than 2.8 million people. The picture update showcases the monstrous Raptor engines powering the Starship Mk.1 spacecraft under construction in Boca Chica, South Texas. Mr Musk released the black-and-white images just two days before he is expected to discuss the Starship’s construction progress on Saturday, September 28. The SpaceX boss captioned the pictures: “Three Raptors on Starship.”
Based on pictures shared online by Mr Musk, the Starship’s stainless steel construction is nearing complete assembly.
On Thursday, September 26, Elon Musk shared three pictures of the bell-shaped Raptor engines mounted to the Starship and two new pictures of the rocket itself.
The Raptor is SpaceX’s signature engine designed to put out a minimum of 170 tons of force for interplanetary travel.
The engine is powered by a mix of super-cooled liquid methane and liquid oxygen.
The supercooled gases, the California-based company has claimed, will give the Raptor a 10 to 20 percent boost against conventional rockets.
Three Raptors on Starship
Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO
Building on SpaceX’s achievements in reusable rocket technology, the company believes the engines will be reusable for up to 1,000 spaceflights.
A single Raptor engine previously powered a Starship prototype affectionately dubbed the Starhopper.
The engine test carried out on August 27 this year, saw the Starhopper “hop” 492ft( 150m) upwards and to the side before touching back down.
Before that, the Starship prototype only rose about 65ft (20m) off of the ground.
Once SpaceX completes construction on the Starship prototype, it will serve as a scaled-down model of the spacecraft that could one day fly people to the Moon and Mars.
A second Starship prototype, the Starship Mk.2, is being assembled at a SpaceX facility in Florida.
The Starship will serve as the upper stage of SpaceX’s two-stage Big Falcon Rocket or BFR.
The lower stage of the BFR, the Super Heavy, will act as a reusable booster stage capable of orbital flight.
In July this year, Mr Musk said the Super Heavy will feature between 31 and 41 Raptor engines.
He did, however, said in a tweet the rocket is “kind of begging for one more”.
SpaceX has claimed the completed Starship spacecraft will have the capacity to ferry 100 people with cargo to the Moon and to Mars.
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