CEO Elon Musk says SpaceX is building a Raptor rocket engine every 48 hours, disputing claims of a ‘bottleneck’ for the Artemis moon mission boosters
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk on Saturday said his company had the capability to produce a Raptor rocket engine every 48 hours.
“Raptor production is approaching one every 48 hours,” Musk said on Twitter.
The interplanetary transport engines, announced in 2016 and capable of generating 500,000 pounds of thrust , are key to SpaceX’s plans to help NASA return to the moon, then head further out to Mars.
The Raptor’s “insane power” is used on both the the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launch vehicles. They’re also expected to power SpaceX’s Starship, which is set to be the next moon lander .
NASA in April chose SpaceX as its sole partner for the Artemis moon program. But the contracted work was put on hold in late April pending a Government Accountability Office review after a protest from another bidder, led by Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos’ space exploration company.
SpaceX’s Starship vehicle will be powered in its booster stage by 29 Raptor engines, Musk said in another tweet on Saturday. That will rise to “32 later this year, along with thrust increase per engine. Aiming for >7500 ton thrust long-term.”
Musk’s Twitter comment came after Tim Dodd, who runs the YouTube channel Everyday Astronaut, questioned whether the rocket production was in a “bit of a bottleneck.”
Some in the industry and government have expressed concern about SpaceX’s prototypes exploding during test flights. Those concerns were echoed last week by Blue Origin on Twitter.
“The Human Landing System program needs competition, not the delay of starting over. The National Team has an open architecture, deep experience, massive self-funded investments and a safe, low-risk design to return to the Moon. Let’s go,” the company said .
Musk on Friday replied to Blue Origin, which had a higher bid price for the Artemis contract than SpaceX.
“For the low, low price of … ?” Musk wrote on Twitter.