"First firing of Starship Raptor flight engine!"
SpaceX has a big year ahead of it as it continues to fulfill rocket launch contracts for clients eager to send stuff into space, but it's the company's Starship project that has gotten the most attention from science fans.
With a test of this magnitude, with this sort of power inside an engine of this size, a worst-case scenario means fire, and lots of it.
Elon Musk and a SpaceX illustration of its Starship rocket on Mars.
Musk also said in December that the Raptor had been "radically redesigned" from prior versions, but did not elaborate then on the changes.
With an initial thrust of 440,000 pounds-force, the Raptor is somewhat less powerful than Blue Origin's BE-4 engine, which also uses methane and liquid oxygen and produces 550,000 pounds-force of thrust.
In later responses, Musk said that the first orbital prototype should be ready by June.
The first launches of the full-scale Starship-Super Heavy duo could follow in relatively short order.
The recent test wasn't the first firing of any kind of Raptor.
SpaceX test-fired February 3 the first flight version of the Raptor engine the company has developed for its next-generation launch system. Musk has said the prototype could start doing short-hop tests within the next month or two; although that schedule may have been set back by a storm that damaged the Hopper last month during construction. And the flight Raptor will boast about twice the thrust of the Merlin version that powers the Falcon 9.