SpaceX’s Falcon and Grasshopper rockets are about to become much more efficient, thanks to certification of the company’s new Merlin 1D rocket engine.

The certification process is quite rigorous, as befits a gigantic tube full of explosives that will carry people to outer space. After 28 Earth-based tests that saw the Merlin 1D fly for a total of 1,970 seconds – about ten missions worth – NASA certified the new engine as ready for use last week

Acccording to SpaceX, the Merlin 1D is the most fuel-efficient ever produced. “The Merlin 1D has a vacuum thrust-to-weight ratio exceeding 150, the best of any liquid rocket engine in history.”

Besides the all-important thrust-to-weight ratio, the Merlin 1D has also set new records in production efficiency. “…The new engine is designed for improved manufacturability by using higher efficiency processes, increased robotic construction and reduced parts count.”

Space X CEO Elon Musk expects the Merlin 1D to make up the main engine battery for the company’s Flight 6 mission later this year. Equipped with 9 Merlin 1Ds, the Falcon 9 will produce a staggering 147,000 pounds of thrust for her 185 second journey through Earth’s atmosphere.

Watch the Engine Test:

Images and Video Courtesy of Space X

Watch our interview with Space X CEO Elon Musk here.

 

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