Last Thursday, notable because it was one day after SpaceX announced the completion of the 200th Falcon 9 upper stage and MVAC engine, SpaceX followed up with another, similar announcement. They have produced their 200th Raptor 2 engine.
Note that's just the Raptor 2 engines
which are significantly improved over the first generation Raptor engines that
we saw fly during Starship test hops last year.
Before SpaceX shipped its first Raptor 2 prototype, it manufactured 100 Raptor 1 engines between the start of full-scale testing in February 2018 and July 2021. By late 2021 or early 2022, when Raptor 2 took over, the total number of Raptor 1 engines produced likely reached somewhere between 125 and 150 – impressive but pale in comparison to SpaceX’s Raptor 2 ambitions.
I have a link to a deep dive video into the Raptor 2 and how they've improved the Raptor 1 by simplifying and improving many parts. Musk refers to the Raptor 1 as looking like a Christmas tree compared to version 2: “It’s not super easy to see but you can compare how much less there is if you just look at–just eyeball the fiddly bits level there versus the fiddly bits level there.” Teslarati published this photo showing the two types side by side.
One of the last Raptor 1s vs. one of the first Raptor 2s. (SpaceX photo) Obviously fewer fiddly bits.
From the start, Raptor 2’s purpose was to make future Raptors easier, faster, and cheaper to manufacture. The ultimate goal is to eventually reduce the cost of Raptor 2 production to $1000 per ton of thrust, or $230,000 at Raptor 2’s current target of 230 tons (~510,000 lbf) of thrust. As of mid-2019, Musk reported that each early Raptor 1 prototype cost “more” than $2 million for what would turn out to be 185 tons of thrust (~$11,000 per ton). It’s not clear if that ever appreciably changed.
SpaceX built a dedicated Raptor 2 facility and is currently producing Raptor 2 engines at a rate of one per day. An engine per day is too slow for the rate SpaceX needs them. There are 39 Raptors on a Starship/Super Heavy combination, so that's almost six weeks to outfit one vehicle. Musk has stated before that they're “aiming [to build a Raptor] engine every 12 hours...” It will be interesting to see that. Raptor is already one of the fastest-produced orbital-class rocket engines in history, if not the outright fastest.
Note the joke painted on the engine bell, referencing the board game Monopoly. Jokes painted on engine bells seem pretty common at SpaceX.
They're producing Merlins, Raptors, Dracos and every other thing at a pace that no one else is.ReplyDelete
How long has Blue Origins taken to produce two possibly flight-ready BE4s? And none have actually flown even in a minimum fashion, whereas Raptor 1s have flown to 15km or higher, and survived.
While I was writing. I thought the first BE-4 engines were supposed to be 5 years ago and here we get 200 Raptor 2 engines this year alone. But that doesn't seem realistic. It's more like compare the BE-4 to the Raptor 1 and how they got started with that engine. ISTRC the BE-4 development started in '14, so 8 years. How long did the Raptor 1 take? They were building them a couple of years ago.Delete
The Raptor was vaporware as of 2009, but design work started in November 2012 with preburner testing in 2013 and further component testing in 2014. Actual engine testing started in 2016, with the first 'launch' on the Starhopper in 2019.Delete
So, well, from 2012 to 2019, 7 years-ish. For Raptor 1.
Raptor 2 redesign started in, as far as I can find, in 2019. And now 200 of the beasts have been made. That's 3 years from design to 1 per 24 hour production cycle.
In comparison, Rocketdyne's F1 engine was designed in 1955, component testing started in 1957, full engine testing started in 1959, then the project was cancelled by the Air Force but picked up by NASA and first 'production' model was delivered in 1963. An engine designed on paper with slide rules and basically calculators (really big calculators, but basically calculators) from start to first production model delivered in 8 years. Admittedly a lot of work on the components was done before 1955, but...
Blue Origins needs to hang its head in shame. Luzers, LOL!
They continue to amaze, don't they?!ReplyDelete
If I was a young man, I'd try to get a job at SpaceX.ReplyDelete
Since they're "just up the road" from me, don't think I haven't thought of it. Being retired and living at a much lower pace than when I was working isn't conducive to it. Then there's the fact that SpaceX seems to work at a much faster pace than anybody anywhere.Delete
Like you say, I'm too old for that, but if I was in my 30s or early 40s, I could see applying.
I have had the same thoughts SiG. Oh to be 30 years younger! My wife and I have even discussed it but I told her that I could not keep up their pace. Had an acquaintance at work about 10 years ago that actually interviewed for a senior position at SpaceX in the early days. He was in his 60's when he interviewed. The problem probably was that he came from Lockmart.Delete
I regularly see people in the grocery store or around town in both SpaceX and Blue Origin shirts. Of course, I have no idea if they're employees or just fans. Never seen a ULA shirt, and the Boeing shirts always have an airplane on them. Yeah, if I was 30, maybe 35 years younger, I might just try.Delete
My nephew works for, either directly or indirecty as I can't get the info from him, doing construction work at SpaceX. I sent him a message to keep his nose clean and do good work and he'd rise in the company (SpaceX has a habit of 'noticing' contractors they like and hiring them directly.) I hope he sticks with it.Delete
The cost goal, of $230,000 per unit, is amazing. That's less than the cost of just one of our tugboats' two engines.ReplyDelete