Elon Musk Wants to Fly You to Any City in the World in Under an Hour

A rendering of SpaceX's BFR | © SpaceX
A rendering of SpaceX's BFR | © SpaceX
Photo of Peter Ward
Tech Editor3 October 2017

Elon Musk has been talking about his grand plans to colonize Mars for some time, but he recently revealed he also wants to revolutionize the travel industry here on earth. The SpaceX CEO wants to use space rockets to take you to any city in the world in under an hour.

Musk announced the plans at the end of a presentation at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Adelaide, Australia, where he was updating the world on his Mars colonization designs. According to an accompanying promotional video, seen below, the trip from New York to London would be just 29 minutes using the rocket.

“Most of what people consider to be long-distance trips could be completed in less than half-an-hour,” Musk said in Adelaide.

During the talk Musk said that SpaceX is altering its focus to work on just one vehicle, the BFR – which stands for ‘Big Fucking Rocket’. This rocket will be used for both interplanetary travel and trips here on Earth, according to Musk.

The video shows passengers taking a high speed yacht from a dock in New York City out to a launching pad in the sea. The rocket would then take off, with one part detaching and heading back to Earth for reuse, and the shuttle heading onwards to the destination. All of the BFR would be completely reusable, Musk says.

The craft would reach maximum speeds of 27,000 km/h (17,000 mph) as it raced to its destination. That would make a trip from New York to Shanghai 39 minutes, down from 15 hours for a non-stop flight currently.

And the price for a trip on the rocket? “Cost per seat should be about the same as full fare economy in an aircraft. Forgot to mention that,” Musk posted on Instagram Friday.

If Musk is to introduce a hypersonic option to world travelers, he must overcome many obstacles. One of these is to perfect the landing of rockets to the point where they can safely come down to earth near highly populated areas. SpaceX has landed its Falcon rockets 16 times on water and land so far, and will need to test the BFR many more times before it can be trusted.

SpaceX and Musk have ambitious plans for Mars, as outlined by the South African last week. He wants to start sending people to the Red Planet in 2024.

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