When Elon Musk gave more details about SpaceX’s Mars-colonization plans on Friday, he also revealed plans to use the company’s rockets for very speedy Earth-to-Earth journeys.
Musk wants to make SpaceX’s still-theoretical BFR rocket, which it will build for the Mars journey, financially viable by using it for the company’s other services. That means the BFR (“Big F***ing Rocket”), rather than the current Falcon 9 or its Falcon Heavy successor, would be taking satellites into orbit and resupplying the International Space Station.
According to the Tesla/SpaceX/Boring Company chief, it also means the BFR would be able to ferry people around our own home planet. He said the craft will be designed to carry 100 people in 40 cabins.
Reports of Musk’s presentation to the International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia, say he claimed the rocket would be able to take people from Los Angeles to New York in 25 minutes, and from New York to Paris in half an hour. New York to Shanghai would take 39 minutes. Any Earth-bound journey would take less than an hour. That means that passengers could easily spend longer waiting in line at immigration than in flight, if the usual experience of international travel is anything to go by.
These trips would involve taking a boat to a launchpad in the water and boarding a ship that’s carried out of the atmosphere by a BFR, before returning to a landing pad near the destination city. Musk added on Instagram that the fares would be equivalent to those in economy class on a plane.
Musk is fond of making grand promises about high-speed travel. His Boring Company wants to build a “Hyperloop” vacuum-tube tunnel that would suck people from Washington, D.C. to New York in less than half an hour, at speeds of almost 800 mph. He certainly has plenty of vision—the question is whether the engineering can match it.