SpaceX's Rockets Will Take You Anywhere On Earth In Under An Hour
First, the man wants to put you in electric cars. Then, it's a massive pod in a vacuum tube doing a few hundred miles an hour. Now, it's rockets. Literal rockets.
Elon Musk has revealed plans to operate a service that would take very small numbers of passengers on a real live rocket up to orbit and down again on the other side of the world. Most trips should take about 30 minutes, with anywhere on Earth achievable in under an hour.
Musk detailed the plans (well, about as detailed as these plans get) at the tail end of his speech to the International Astronautical Congress, alongside a slightly scaled-down, fully reusable version of his Interplanetary Transport System that uses 31 engines instead of the usual 42. The ITS could be used to service the Space Station, launch satellites, and send people to Mars, with these revenues used for building more passenger rockets.
Here's how it would all work, according to the video. First, customers in New York board a large ferry that takes them out to the floating launchpad, where they board the BFR (short for "Big Fucking Rocket," because this is Elon Musk) and are launched into orbit. The rocket reaches speeds of around 18,000 miles an hour, or more than an order of magnitude above Concorde, according to Musk. 39 minutes later, the rocket reenters orbit and lands, in Shanghai, in the usual way on another floating pad where customers are promptly ferried back to land.
If it sounds unbelievable, that's because it probably is; if anyone could figure this out, it would be Musk, but it's such a long shot that he gave no timeline or price for the project, aside from a projected customer cost of around the same as a standard coach airline ticket.
While this is very impressive, Musk also said that even though the new rocket architecture will make its current Falcon craft obsolete, they're going to be kept around in case customers want to fly on a rocket that's a little more flight-proven. Considering how long it took them to get there, you've probably got some time to start saving up your pennies.