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Elon Musk Shows Off Millions of Pounds of Thrust Sitting on the Starbase Floor

Believe what you will about the man, but Elon Musk sure knows what buttons to push (and how to push them) to get people on both sides of whatever aisle all worked up.
Raptor engines in Texas 6 photos
First firing of a Raptor vacuum engineFirst firing of a Raptor vacuum engineFirst firing of a Raptor vacuum engineFirst firing of a Raptor vacuum engineFirst firing of a Raptor vacuum engine
Like, for instance, he just bought Twitter and is about to unleash the reign of free speech, whatever that means for him. That, of course, got people talking, as did the fact that Tesla’s shares dipped after the Twitter deal was announced.

On the SpaceX front, Musk’s latest gimmick will definitely cause some uproar among enthusiasts. I mean, how often does one get the chance to see millions of pounds of thrust sitting around doing nothing on the floor of some facility?

That’s exactly what we get in the image Musk posted this week on the social media platform he’ll soon own: a pack of Raptor engines, each good for over half a million pounds of thrust, neatly lined up on the floor of SpaceX’s Texas Starbase.

These engines are the latest iteration of the powerplants that will eventually power the company’s Starships on their trips to the Moon and Mars. Fueled by cryogenic liquid methane and liquid oxygen, the staged powerplant has been undergoing testing since 2019, when it became, according to its maker, “the first full-flow staged combustion rocket engine ever flown.”

It is these engines that are putting a strain on SpaceX operations. Back in December 2021, Elon Musk let slip in an email sent to employees that once the Starship is ready, the thing will have to be flown “once every two weeks,” presumably for commercial partners, otherwise, SpaceX might be facing bankruptcy.

The reasons for this are not only development costs for the engines, but also “issues following exiting prior senior management,” which turned out to be “far more severe than was reported.”


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