Reading a book, eating supper, watching TV, catching up on work, or enjoying some leisure time, and then it hits. The noise is always clear and definite, but sometimes the house shakes as well. These are the unmistakable rumblings of progress as we edge ever closer to the stars. It invites you outside to listen and wonder. It prompts questions of how long one particular test will last, and which engine exactly are they testing out there?
Space Exploration Technologies Corp., otherwise known as SpaceX, has been regularly testing engines for its rockets since around 2012 at a facility near McGregor, Texas. Of course, the area is more famously known for being near the city of Waco, where I reside. Every engine they manufacture must be tested, and they all come through the McGregor facility.
Our future lies beyond just one planet, and more than just Mars. There is a rich universe out there likely teeming with life, resources, answers, and even more questions which are waiting to be discovered. SpaceX steadily pushes us closer to it all and changed the game when they developed a system which could take off, land, and take off again. Reusable rockets will eventually be the basis for ships which can fly from Earth into space, return, and do it all over again, repeatedly.
Testing occurs nearly every week, sometimes several days in a row. It could be early in the day, and sometimes it happens at night. In fact, just recently SpaceX test-fired a Raptor engine. According to Spaceflight Now “The throttleable engine can generate up to 440,000 pounds of thrust. Three Raptor engines will be used to eventually power future Starship vehicles into the upper atmosphere, and orbital-class Starships will fly with six Raptors.”
We all heard it, felt it, and of course talked about it.
Check out video of that test below. Unfortunately it doesn’t contain any audio.
One might think this would get old, but for myself and many others in the area, it’s the exact opposite. There is a certain joy in living close enough to this facility to hear and sometimes feel this roar of progress. Then the very next time we see our family, friends, co-workers, and sometimes even complete strangers, we ask the inevitable “did you hear/feel that rocket burst the other day?” There’s always a hint of excitement in our voices and eyes as we talk about the experience. We’re all happy to be a part of it, even if indirectly. Sometimes we don’t even wait to see one another, as there’s always a chorus of us on social media talking about the latest test.
Check out the video below for a test from earlier this year in January, complete with audio.
SpaceX has been a great thing for our community, with the tests as icing on the cake. Here’s to the next one, and the ones that follow!