Elon Musk, the legendary founder and CEO of SpaceX is hell-bent of fulfilling his ambition of reaching Mars and beyond. And even after the tragic and explosive events of last month, the company is not losing pace and sight of its future goals. It has today conducted its first test of the Raptor interplanetary rocket engine — which will carry humans to the Red planet as early as 2024.

The California-based aerospace company completed the firing of its next-generation rocket engine at its own facilities in McGregor, Texas. The Raptor — a methane-fueled blaster — is the rocket that’ll be used to power SpaceX’s reusable Mars Colonial Transporter, the Red Dragon.

Sharing his excitement in a series of tweets, Musk revealed that the Raptor transport engines are far ahead of Merlin engines that power the reusable Falcon 9s. He shared two images of the successful test firings, one showing a steady stream of flame coming through the engine, while another showing ‘mach diamonds’ — standing wave patterns that appear in the supersonic exhaust plume of an aerospace propulsion system. The same can be observed in the featured image attached above.

Elon Musk, who has been fairly mum about the specifics of his ‘much-awaited’ Mars colonization plan, this time went ahead to drop some very specific details about the rocket, confirming production goals and chamber pressures.

Previously he had previously touted about the Raptor engine’s capabilities saying that it will deliver about 500,000 pounds of lift-off thrust a but the production goals state otherwise. In his tweet, he said and I quote “Production Raptor goal is specific impulse of 382 seconds and thrust of 3 MN (~310 metric tons or 680,000 pounds) at 300 bar” and chamber pressure is about 3 times the Merlin engines — which is better than his estimates.

The news of SpaceX’s success comes at a time when Musk is expected to finally share the designs of his Mars Colonial Transporter, and his plan for ultimately colonising the planet in the next decade. At the International Astronautical Conference in Mexico, he is also likely to share budget details and seek financial help from governments and space authorities.

With the aim of making us a multi-planetary species, the company will begin a series of unmanned mission from 2018, before sending humans out to the Red Planet around 2024. And if this does happen — without any future mishaps on the launchpad, then it could be your chance to show off your intelligence and skills, very much like Mark Watney from the movie Mars.

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