SpaceX Successfully Fires Up Its "Super" Rocket Engine That'll Let It Land On Mars

By Sam Gibbs on at

SpaceX’s goal of commercial spaceflight and space expeditions took a massive step forward with the testing of the company’s SuperDraco engine. This is the rocket that should allow its Dragon spaceships to land safely back on Earth, or any other planet for that matter.

It’s a beefed up version of the engine SpaceX is using to manoeuvre its spacecraft in orbit, and will not only allow sci-fi-like vertical, thruster-controlled landings, but also “power a revolutionary launch escape system that will make Dragon the safest spacecraft in history” according to Elon Musk, SpaceX’s founder. Good news for anyone hoping to hop aboard a commercial spaceflight – you want to make it back to Earth with everything intact if something goes wrong, right?

The engine can be reused as well as stopped and started multiple times, while providing some 15,000 pounds (66.7 kilonewtons) of thrust each. SpaceX plans on strapping eight of these babies to its Dragon spacecraft.

SpaceX was meant to launch the first private ISS docking craft this month, but delayed the launch because “a few areas that will benefit from additional work and will optimize the safety and success of this mission,” or in other words, it’s better late and safe than sorry.

It’s amazing to think that privately-funded companies are readying to launch into space and carry on where the space agencies left off; but what you’re looking at in the video above is the engine that will allow privateers to land on Mars – now that really is awesome. We’re all going into space folks, as long as you’ve got the oodles of cash to pay for it. [SpaceX via Wired]