SpaceXs New Rocket Fuel Could Help Us Finally Launch Humans to Mars
From the International Space Station to Mars — SpaceX is developing a new kind of rocket propellant that could push the limits of space travel further than ever before.
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RP-1 had some drawbacks that are leading SpaceX scientists to look at a different propellant, which could be used specifically for Mars exploration. Enter the SpaceX Raptor engine and it’s next generation propellant.
This engine uses a combination of liquid methane and liquid oxygen to create, in my opinion, the perfect mixture for a reusable vehicle on Mars. Not only is this an efficient fuel, but we can easily create it using resources found on the Red Planet. Which is great, because one of SpaceX’s main goals is to create a system that can take humans to Mars and back.
Both methane and CO2 could be extracted from the atmosphere using solar power, and water could be mined near the surface of Mars using wells. And when compared to RP-1, methane has a higher Specific Impulse, a cooler combustion temperature, and prevents coking, or the buildup of deposits in the engine.
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Why the next generation of rockets will be powered by methane
"After a century of rocket fuel research that has looked at everything from RP-1 to hydrogen to paraffin, the industry is turning to a surprising new source – methane natural gas. One of the most abundant chemicals on our planet, methane is finally enjoying the spotlight."
SpaceX Starship's Raptor engine just reached all-new power levels
"The Raptor engine uses liquid oxygen and methane, unlike the Merlin engine fueled by rocket propellant that powers the Falcon 9. That, combined with the Starship's fully-reusable design, means humans can travel to Mars, harvest the planet's resources, and use that to fuel the return trip."
First liquid-fueled rocket
"Goddard, born in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1882, became fascinated with the idea of space travel after reading the H.G. Wells’ science fiction novel War of the Worlds in 1898."
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