Elon Musk said SpaceX successfully tested its Raptor rocket engine that might one day be used to transport people to Mars.
SpaceX "achieved first firing of the Raptor interplanetary transport engine," Musk said Sunday night on Twitter. The engine is powered by methane and liquid oxygen.
The disclosure came on the eve of Musk's scheduled appearance Tuesday at the International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico, where he is expected to discuss SpaceX's efforts toward eventually reaching Mars.
Musk is chief executive of Hawthorne-based SpaceX, a privately held company whose full name is Space Exploration Technologies Corp.
In June, Musk predicted the company could launch people to Mars in less than a decade and said he would provide more details at the conference in Mexico about SpaceX's effort to one day colonize the planet.
Meanwhile, SpaceX suffered a setback Sept. 1 when one of its Falcon 9 rockets, which was supposed to carry a communications satellite into orbit, exploded on the launchpad in Florida.
The company said last week that early analysis suggests a "large breach" took place in the cryogenic helium system of the rocket's second-stage liquid oxygen tank, but that it still looking for the root cause of the explosion.
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