Skip to comments.SpaceX Set to Test Raptor Engine Components at NASA Stennis
Posted on 05/20/2014 5:11:50 PM PDT by Jack Hydrazine
Nearly six months after announcing that SpaceX would be testing Raptor engine components at NASA's Stennis Space Center, a ribbon cutting ceremony this past Monday officially unveiled the newly refurbished E-2 test stand.
SpaceX has been working on the Raptor methane-fueled rocket engine since 2009. The new engine, a reusable engine is destined to be used in future versions of the Falcon Heavy and in the long term for the notional SpaceX Mars Colonial Transporter.
Testing is set to begin within the coming days after the E-2 test stand activation is completed a spokesperson for SpaceX confirmed to SpaceRef.
SpaceX will test Raptor injectors and combustion chambers during the initial phase at E-2 Cell 1. According to SpaceX they are still in the very early stages of the Raptor engine development program and this initial test phase will last 12 to 24 months with larger components to be tested afterwards presumably at their rocket engine development facility in McGregor, Texas.
"This is a great partnership between NASA and SpaceX," Stennis Center Director Rick Gilbrech said. "These types of activities are opening new doors of commercial space exploration for companies. SpaceX is another example of the outstanding progress America's commercial space industry is making, and we are happy to welcome them as our newest commercial test customer."
"SpaceX is proud to bring the Raptor testing program to NASA's Stennis Space Center and the great state of Mississippi," said Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO of SpaceX. "In partnership with NASA, SpaceX has helped create one of the most advanced engine testing facilities in the world, and we look forward to putting the stand to good use."
The ribbon cutting ceremony comes just a few days after SpaceX revealed it had completed the first test flight of the Falcon 9 Reusable (F9R) at their rocket development facility in McGregor, Texas.
Raptor is the first member of a family of 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 methane and liquid oxygen (LOX), rather than the RP-1 kerosene and LOX used in all previous Falcon 9 upper stages, which use a Merlin vacuum engine. Earlier concepts for Raptor would have used liquid hydrogen (LH2) fuel rather than methane.
The Raptor engine will have over six times the thrust of the Merlin 1D vacuum engine that powers the second stage of the current Falcon 9, the Falcon 9 v1.1.
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.”
Thrust (vac.) 4,400 kilonewtons (1,000,000 lbf)
Isp (vac.) 363 s
Isp (SL) 321 s
A methane-fueled heavy lift engine is, without doubt, the wave of the future for space beyond earth orbit.
When SpaceX has an IPO I will be buying.
April 13, 2013
Details of Elon Musk Goal of getting 80,000 people per year to Mars
Wow, very interesting! “Get your ass to Mars”!
No one will be able to compete with the Raptor engine. It outclasses everything.
SpaceX maintains proprietary knowledge of rocket engines even the government doesn’t know. Stuff that Russia and China would love to get their hands on. You can bet that if Obama knows something, so do the Muslims, and so do the Chinese.
So will I!
Mars Colonial Transporter
Mars Colonial Transporter (MCT) is the name of the privately funded development project by U.S. company SpaceX to design and build a spaceflight system of reusable rocket engines, launch vehicles and space capsules to transport humans to Mars and return to Earth.
As of 2014, SpaceX has begun development of the large rocket engine for the Mars Colonial Transporter, but the MCT is not projected to be operational until the mid-2020s.
Mars Colonial Transporter has been notionally described as being a large interplanetary spacecraft capable of taking 100 people at a time to Mars, although early flights are expected to carry fewer people and more equipment. The spacecraft has been notionally described as using a large water store to help shield occupants from space radiation and to possibly having a cabin oxygen content that is up to two times that which is found in Earth’s atmosphere.
The Mars colony envisioned by Musk would start small, notionally an initial group of fewer than ten people. With time, Musk sees that such an outpost could grow into something much larger and become self-sustaining, perhaps up to as large as 80,000 people once it is established. Musk has stated that as aspirational price goal for such a trip might be on the order of US$500,000, something that “most people in advanced countries, in their mid-forties or something like that, could put together [to make the trip].”
Before any people are transported to Mars, a number of cargo missions would be undertaken first in order to transport the requisite equipment, habitats and supplies. Equipment that would accompany the early groups would include “machines to produce fertilizer, methane and oxygen from Mars’ atmospheric nitrogen and carbon dioxide and the planet’s subsurface water ice” as well as construction materials to build transparent domes for crop growth.
Super-heavy lift launch vehicle
The super-heavy lift launch vehicle for MCT will consist of one or three 10-meter (33 ft)-diameter cores and use nine Raptor LOX/methane engines to power each core. The rocket has not yet been named by SpaceX. As of March 2014, no launch site has been selected for the super-heavy lift rocket, but SpaceX has indicated that their leased facility in Florida at Launch Pad 39A is not large enough to accommodate the vehicle, and that a new site would be built in order to launch the 10-meter diameter rocket.
The MCT launch vehicle is intended to be reusablemaking use of the SpaceX reusable technology that is currently being developed for Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavyand producing approximately 40 or 120 meganewtons (9,000,000 or 27,000,000 lbf) of thrust at liftoff.
‘Musk has stated that as aspirational price goal for such a trip might be on the order of US$500,000, something that most people in advanced countries, in their mid-forties or something like that, could put together [to make the trip].’
Kickstarter or another fundraising website could be used to fund a Mars colonist.
When SpaceX has an IPO I will be buying.
At least SpaceX figured out a few years back that a LOx- RP1 upper stage was a non-starter for heavy GEO missions. The Isp trade-off between LOx-LH2 and LOx-RP1 is huge.
Unfortunately, Rocketdyne kind of screwed the pooch back in the 80s with a poorly designed injector on an unstable LOx-Methane engine. To their credit, companies like XCOR and SpaceX have figured out that methane was not the bad actor, rather the poorly designed injector. Took ‘em long enough.
Or just get your ass to Titan!
Be careful. Elon doesn’t understand how much risk costs yet. One failure and his launch insurance rates go through the roof and he squanders whatever launch cost advantage he currently has.
Being given the brush off, more or less, by the existing aerospace companies, who thought the money Musk offered for the kind of performance he demanded was laughable, really has paid off. When Zero got in and the NASA budget was really chainsaw massacred, those same companies went back to Musk, now needing work, and were told, we don’t need you, we did it ourselves.
XCOR Methane Rocket static test
(crank up the speakers for this one.)
LOX/LH2 does have a better Isp than LOX/RP-1 but you run into more complications using LH2 such as metal embrittlement because it is so much colder than most cryogenic fluids. So it was a tradeoff they thought would work for them.
But SpaceX figured out how to handle methane plus they are tackling the closed combustion cycle increasing thrust significantly.
And with Musk going to court and getting the Russian RD-180 engines blocked from being sold to Aerojet for the Atlas V this is going put the squeeze on Aerojet and ULA.
2014 supply chain disruption
Doubts about the reliability of the supply chain for the RD-180 arose following the Ukraine crisis in March 2014. For over 13 years since the engine was first used in the Atlas III launch vehicle in 2000, there was never any serious jeopardy to the engine supply, despite an uneven record of US-Russian relations since the Cold War. But worsening relations between the west and Russia after March have led to several blockages, including a short-lived judicial injunction from the US courts that were unclear on the scope of the US sanctions on importing the Russian engine.
On May 13, 2014, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin announced that “Russia will ban the United States from using Russian-made rocket engines for military launches”a frequent payload of the ULA Atlas V launch vehicle which powers its first stage with two RD-180 engines that are expended after each flight. In response, the US Air Force has asked the Aerospace Corporation to begin evaluating alternatives for powering the Atlas 5 booster stage with non-RD-180 engines. Early estimates are that it would require five or more years to replace the RD-180 on the Atlas V.
With questions swirling, ULA hastens Delta 4 production
Atlas 5 rocket set for launch amid cloud of controversy
“So, then, it is necessary to observe that in fact there is no current alternative. Worldwide, there is no one-million pound-class LOX/hydrocarbon-engine, and anyone who has been out on a test stand testing their own rocket engine knows this is at best a five- or six-year process, and it does not matter if you are returning to production or building your own. So, there is no current alternative and there will not be one for five or six years, best case.” /preview.html#.U3v94Chr2og
(I’m sure SpaceX will position themselves to fill the gap.)
Rogozin hurls salvo of attacks on U.S. space program
And increasing Isp.
Future Spacecraft Could Protect Crews With Walls Made of Water
Radiation shields, new engines mandatory for Mars
Just giving everyone a heads for the next launch in two days.
Rocket: Atlas 5 (AV-046)
Date: May 22, 2014
Period: 9:05 a.m. EDT/6:05 a.m. PDT
Site: SLC-41, Cape Canaveral, Florida
Atlas 5 rocket set for launch amid cloud of controversy
Can be viewed here.
Weather forecasters continue to project an 80 percent chance of favorable conditions for liftoff.
Please pass this on to those FReepers who might be interested.
Podkayne of Mars is a science fiction novel by Robert A. Heinlein, originally serialised in Worlds of If (November 1962, January, March 1963), and published in hardcover in 1963. The novel is about a teenage girl named Podkayne “Poddy” Fries and her younger, asocial genius brother, Clark, who leave their home on Mars to take a trip on a spaceliner to visit Earth, accompanied by their uncle.
Quote from the book:
The solar flares trigger radiation, he told us, quite ordinary radiation, much like X-rays (and other sorts, I mentally added), the sort of radiation which is found in space at all times. But the intensity reaches levels from a thousand to ten thousand times as high as normal space radiation-and, since we are already inside the orbit of Earth, this is bad medicine indeed; it would kill an unprotected man about as quickly as shooting him through the head.
Then he explained why we would not require a thousand to ten thousand times as much shielding in order to be safe. Its the cascade principle. The outer hull stops over 90 percent of any radiation; then comes the cofferdam (cargo holds and water tanks) which absorbs some more; then comes the inner hull which is actually the floor of the cylinder which is first-class passenger country.
This much shielding is plenty for all normal conditions; the radiation level in our staterooms is lower than it is at home, quite a lot lower than it is most places on Earth, especially in the mountains. (Im looking forward to seeing real mountains. Scary!)
The next launch of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 is 27MAY2014/0327EDT, 0027 PDT.
Falcon 9 launch manifest.
Thanks for the links. I figured years ago that water was the most economical multi-purpose material for the job. I am still interested in how they go about it.
How they go about lifting it into orbit?
Maybe one or two flights with the super heavy lift vehicle (using 9 Raptor engines) in water-only cargo containers using anti-slosh baffles.
Fuel cell technology has come a long way since the Apollo days.
Sounds like you should work for SpaceX.
After they get the motor certified they'll have to certify a rocket. That's a whole 'nuther ball game.
They can get by on a lot of things for commercial-only lift. But when they step up to cert on National Security and/or manned flight it's a much more expensive proposition. And it take a long damn time.