SpaceX’s Raptor engine has excelled in tests for NASA’s Artemis III Moon lander. In November 2021, SpaceX completed a 281-second test firing of the Raptor engine, demonstrating its ability to perform a critical phase of landing on the Moon. The test showed that the Raptor engine could throttle its power and burn for the full length of time required for the powered descent phase of the landing.
In August 2023, SpaceX successfully tested a vacuum-optimized Raptor engine in conditions similar to outer space. The test confirmed that the engine could be started in the extreme cold conditions resulting from extended time in space.
The Raptor engine is a key component of SpaceX’s Starship spacecraft, which is being developed under NASA’s Artemis program to land astronauts on the Moon. The Starship will be powered by six Raptor engines, three of which will be vacuum-optimized for use in space.
The successful tests of the Raptor engine are a major milestone for the Artemis program and for SpaceX. They demonstrate that the engine is ready for use in the Starship and that SpaceX is on track to meet its goals for the Artemis III mission.
The Artemis III mission is scheduled to launch in 2025. And will land the first woman and next man on the Moon. It will be the first crewed mission to the Moon since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.
The Artemis program is NASA’s ambitious plan to return humans to the Moon and eventually send them to Mars. The program is a collaboration between NASA, commercial space companies, and international partners.