Elon Musk is expected to lay out his plans for space colonization at the International Astronautical Congress on Tuesday. Ahead of the highly-anticipated speech, the SpaceX founder released the first images of the rocket engine that will bring it to Mars.
Mach diamonds pic.twitter.com/TCX7ZGFnN0
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 26, 2016
The SpaceX Raptor engine pictured above is three times as powerful as the company’s current Merlin 1-D engine (nine of those are used to power the Falcon 9 rocket). Musk notes that the Raptor will offer a thrust of 3 million Newtons (about 310 metric tons) in the upper atmosphere. However, the company still hasn’t said how many engines will be required to power its planned “Interplanetary Transport System.”
SpaceX originally began testing the Raptor engine at a facility in McGregor, Texas last month, and Musk has previously stated that he plans to start sending humans to Mars in the mid-2020s. That may sound overly ambitious, but with the engine already firing, the company could be closing in on its goals.
We should know a lot more after Tuesday’s speech.