Elon Musk’s next big idea: intercity travel by rocket
Elon Musk has just unveiled his next big idea: a futuristic vision of rocket-propelled intercity travel where flights to anywhere in the world would take minutes and cost no more than the price of an economy airline ticket.
The SpaceX founder and CEO has frequently astonished the world with ideas that sound like science fiction. In an offshoot of his aspirations of interplanetary travel, Musk’s latest idea was unveiled on September 29 at the International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia, the Financial Times reports.
There, the entrepreneur delivered a speech presenting the revised plans of his main space project – to land cargo spaceships on Mars by 2022 and send humans to the red planet by 2024. But he ended his talk with an extraordinary proposal: to use that same interplanetary rocket system for long-distance intercity travel on Earth.
Musk showed a demonstration of the idea onstage, saying his next mega-rocket would allow passengers to take “most long-distance trips” in just 30 minutes, and go “anywhere on Earth in under an hour” for around the same price as an economy airline ticket.
The entrepreneur proposed using SpaceX’s forthcoming BFR mega-rocket to lift a massive spaceship into orbit around the Earth. The BFR rocket (which inside the company is known as the Big F***king Rocket) was first unveiled last year as part of SpaceX’s Interplanetary Transport System.
A video simulation showed passengers taking a large boat from a dock in New York to board a rocket on a floating launch pad. Just 39 minutes and some 7,000 miles after take-off, the ship reenters the atmosphere and lands at a similar facility in Shanghai.
Other proposed routes include Hong Kong to Singapore in 22 minutes, London to Dubai or New York in 29 minutes, and Los Angeles to Toronto in 24 minutes, the Verve writes.
The proposed intercity travel by rocket would be, by far, the fastest ever created by humanity. The ship would reach the speed of about 18,000 miles per hour at its peak, Musk said.
The spaceship would have 40 cabins, carrying 100 people. The cabins would be pressurized to a greater level than an A380 passenger aircraft.
Musk acknowledged the idea may “look ridiculous” but said: “You need to look at the aircraft currently providing travel solutions between cities across the world.” A single-engine turboprop was cheap but could not reach Australia, while passenger jets cost “many tens of millions”.
The thought of blasting off on a rocket to space to get to London or wherever is indeed exciting and Musk said they have already started building the system. “The tooling for the main tanks has been ordered, the facility is being built, we will start construction of the first ship in around six to nine months.”
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