Raptors abound at SpaceX’s Starbase facility in Texas
Raptor engines were the hot topic last week at SpaceX’s rocket production and testing facility in Boca Chica, Texas, also known as Starbase.
Company founder and CEO Elon Musk tweeted a photo featuring a myriad of Raptor engines lined up at the Starbase production site that will help power the fully-reusable Starship launch system into orbit. The picture, which Musk captioned “Fellowship of the Raptors,” included one Raptor Vacuum engine surrounded by nine sea level engines.
Discussion began to ignite in response to the photo Musk tweeted, including confirmation of new developments on the future of SpaceX engine production.
Musk confirmed the company is planning to add a second Raptor engine production facility at SpaceX’s engine test site in McGregor, Texas, with the aim to produce two to four engines per day. He also said that production of the Raptor Vacuum engine would be ramping up at the company’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California. The California facility is also expected to focus on various new experimental designs.
All told, Musk hopes to get Raptor production to roughly 800 to 1,000 per year.
“That’s about what’s needed over ten years to create the fleet to build a self-sustaining city on Mars,” Musk said. “City itself probably takes roughly 20 years, so hopefully it is built by ~2050.”
Also announced in the tweet chain was the confirmation that SpaceX made a final decision on the number of Raptor engines it is planning to include on operational Super Heavy boosters: 33.
“All engines on booster are the same, apart from deleting gimbal & thrust vector actuators for the outer 20,” Musk said.
Meanwhile, on July 11, 2021, installation of a Raptor engine began on the pathfinder Super Heavy booster, Booster 3, currently situated at the test stand at Boca Chica.
A new thrust puck was also spotted being delivered to the High Bay over the weekend. This section will be the area in which the gimbaling Raptor engines are situated at the base of the next Super Heavy booster currently in production, Booster 4.
Having a life-long interest in crewed space flight, Desforges’ passion materialized on a family vacation in 1999 when he was able see the launch of Space Shuttle Discovery on STS-96. Since then, Desforges has been an enthusiast of space exploration efforts. He lived in Orlando, Florida for a year, during which time he had the opportunity to witness the flights of the historic CRS-4 and EFT-1 missions in person at Cape Canaveral. He earned his Private Pilot Certificate in 2017, holds a degree in Aviation Management, and currently works as an Operations Analyst in the aviation industry in Georgia.