The current Raptor concept “is a highly reusable methane staged-combustion engine that will power the next generation of SpaceX launch vehicles designed for the exploration and colonization of Mars,” Shanklin said. “The Raptor engine currently in development is the first in what we expect to be a family of engines.”
Staged combustion, also called closed-loop combustion, will be a new trick for SpaceX. The company’s Merlin family of kerosene-fueled rocket engines, currently in use on its Falcon 9 rocket, use an open-cycle, gas-generator configuration. Given identical fuel-oxidizer mixtures and propellant flow volumes, a closed-loop engine is more efficient than one with an open loop configuration.
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