Forget Airplanes, Elon Musk Wants International Rocket Travel
The real-life Tony Stark continues to redefine how the world thinks about modern travel. After making serious progress on the Hyperloop and promising to send humans to Mars by 2024 with his SpaceX rocket, Elon Musk has released a video unveiling plans for something that seems straight out of a science fiction movie.
Musk shared a video entitled "BFR | Earth to Earth" in which he reveals his idea to use the same SpaceX rocket system that is used to go to space, to transport humans around the globe at mind-blowing speeds.
Los Angeles to London in 32 minutes, New York to Shanghai in 39 minutes — all for a price Musk says would "be about the same as full fare economy in an aircraft."
[pullquote]Los Angeles to London in 32 minutes, New York to Shanghai in 39 minutes.[/pullquote]
According to the video, most long distance trips would last less then 30 minutes, and you could get anywhere on earth in less than an hour. The rocket has a maximum speed of 27,000 kilometers per hour, or 16,777 mph. That New York to Shanghai trip that Musk says would take only 39 minutes currently lasts 15 hours on a Boeing 777.
The SpaceX CEO is proposing to use the ITS or Interplanetary Transport System, designed for missions to destinations like the Moon and Mars. The ITS, which was revealed on Friday in Australia, has yet to be built and is only a concept. SpaceX currently flies its Falcon 9 rockets on space missions. The ITS also goes within the company by BFR or Big F**king Rocket, referring to its massive size.
The rocket would launch off pads floating in the water off the coast of major cities and leave the atmosphere; after that the passenger-carrying ship would separate from the rocket. The ship would descend to its destination, landing on another waterborne pad. The rocket itself would drop back to Earth to be used to launch another pod full of passengers.
Below, a rendering of the ITS delivering a payload (not the passenger rocket) into orbit.
Based on figures Musk has presented, The Verge estimates that the ship could carry 80 to 200 people per trip. It would be faster than any sort of international travel the earth has ever seen — the Concorde's cruising speed was only 1,341 mph.
With the first mission to Mars slated for 2024, it's likely that we won't see the BFR used for city-to-city travel until then, if not later. Musk's big projects usually are held up by massive delays. It's unclear what the passenger experience would be like and how repeated flights like this could affect the human body.
While SpaceX has brought the cost of space travel way down, it does seem quite ambitious to offer the a seat on one of these rockets for the price of an economy ticket on a regular airline.