SpaceX: A massive Raptor V2 shipment brings us closer to Starship's first orbital flight
Starship is edging closer to its orbital maiden flight.
In preparation, SpaceX has been shipping its upgraded Raptor V2 engines to Starbase as its gears up for Starship's crucial first orbital launch.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk showed off an image of the engines on his newly-acquired social media platform, Twitter. The image shows at least 15 engines recently transported to Starbase, where they will be fitted to SpaceX's Moon and Mars-bound Starship.
Starship's launch will be the next big milestone for SpaceX, the company that brought crewed launches back to U.S. soil for the first time in almost a decade back in December 2020 with its Demo-2 mission.
Unlike SpaceX's Falcon 9 launch vehicle, which reuses its first stage and not its second, Starship will be fully reusable, a feature that will be a crucial factor in the eventual transportation of humans to Mars.
Raptor 2 rocket engines at Starbase, each producing over half a million pounds (230 tons) of force pic.twitter.com/9ixxXXceG3— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 26, 2022
Last month, Musk said the "first Starship orbital flight will be with Raptor 2 engines, as they are much more capable [and] reliable. 230 ton or ~500k lb thrust at sea level.
"We'll have 39 flightworthy engines built by next month, then another month to integrate, so hopefully May for orbital flight test," he continued.
Raptor V2 provides improved reliability at a fraction of the cost
Raptor V2 was designed to reduce production cost and time, meaning that almost every piece in the engine was redesigned to be more compact and easier to produce.
As Teslarati points out, SpaceX started Raptor V2 deliveries to Starbase on March 30th, and it should already have enough of the engines to perform static fire tests with a full cluster of 13 central Raptors.
Musk recently said V2 costs about half as much to build as the previous model V1.5 and is "much more reliable" and powerful. SpaceX also boosted Raptor's maximum thrust by 25 percent, to 230 tons of thrust at sea level. By comparison, the V1.5 engines used on Starships SN8-11 and SN15 produced around 185 tons (~410,000 lbf).
This week, SpaceX and NASA sent another crewed launch to the International Space Station as part of the Crew-4 mission. Today, April 29, the company aims to send another 53 Starlink satellites into orbit. Musk recently stated that the revenue from the company's Starlink internet satellite service would help it develop its fully reusable Starship after having recently increased the price for the service citing inflation.