SpaceX foresees rocket travel to Shanghai and Mars ‘within a decade’

12 Apr 2018

Still from ‘BFR | Earth to Earth’. Image: SpaceX/YouTube

SpaceX believes that passenger flights to the other side of the world in less than an hour will be possible in just a few short years.

In September of last year, SpaceX revealed its futuristic plan to make Earth-bound rocket travel a reality, drastically cutting the time it would take to travel to the other side of the world from almost a full day to less than an hour.

The rocket falls under SpaceX’s goal to send humans to Mars as part of a major colonisation plan for the Red Planet.

Now, SpaceX president and COO Gwynne Shotwell revealed at the recent TED Conference in Vancouver that the company is confident it can achieve this “within a decade”.

In fact, according to Recode, Shotwell added that “it’s definitely going to happen”, no doubt putting pressure on SpaceX to achieve what seems a monumental task right now.

During his speech at the International Astronautical Congress last year, founder Elon Musk played a video laying out his plans for rocket travel. It showed how its planned ‘Big Fucking Rocket’ (BFR) would take off from a platform in the Atlantic Ocean and, 39 minutes later, arrive in Shanghai.

During this time, the rocket would have travelled a distance of 11,000km at a speed of 27,000kph – a feat that would put the historic Concorde to shame.

Other suggested routes would take a person from London to Dubai in 29 minutes, but shorter distances, such as from Singapore to Hong Kong, would still take 22 minutes.

Travel for those who hate travel

Putting some further details on this plan, Shotwell added that a ticket on this Concorde for the 21st century would be somewhere between the price of an economy ticket and a business-class ticket on a transoceanic flight.

“I’m personally invested in this one,” she said, “because I travel a lot, and I do not love to travel. And I would love to get to see my customers in Riyadh, leave in the morning and be back in time to make dinner.”

Given that the current cost of a rocket trip for an extremely wealthy individual can reach millions of dollars, Shotwell explained that a ticket on the BFR will be so cheap because the rocket’s speed would allow for multiple trips a day.

This would push it beyond the current capabilities of transoceanic airlines that can operate only one flight per day.

Details on how exactly the craft’s interior would look and what the flight experience would be like were not revealed, however, but one can speculate a wild ride.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic