Elon Musk Wants to Fly You Anywhere on Earth in 30 Minutes for Plane-Ticket Prices
In his speech at the International Astronautical Congress, possible supervillain and definite former-nerd Elon Musk outlined a massively ambitious plan to make the human race a "multiplanet species" and build a city on Mars. This would be a giant step for mankind, sure, but the odds that it'll impact you directly are slim. Even if you wanted to leave all you know and love to join the Mars party, would you be invited? Is there Wi-Fi on Mars?
So here's some good news for you: The same rocket used to ship people to Mars could also be used to hurtle you across our planet in under an hour. That sounds insane, but what's more insane is how cheap Musk thinks it'll be: "Cost per seat should be about the same as full fare economy in an aircraft,” Musk posted to Instagram, along with an animation of what this technology could look like in action. “Forgot to mention that,” he added.
With this technology, Musk's company SpaceX plans to shoot you across the 7,392 miles from New York to Shanghai in 39 minutes. Currently, that's a 15-hour flight. You've probably idled on the tarmac for longer than it'll take you to get from New York to London (29 minutes). In fact, most trips would take less than half an hour.
The BFR, or Big F*cking Rocket (yes, that’s its actual nickname), will travel at speeds close to 17,000 mph. For perspective, the fastest manned aircraft in the world, the rocket-powered X-15, travels at 4,520 mph, and a Boeing 747, the fastest commercial airliner, tends to cruise at just over 600 mph.
Musk claims the BFR has a 100-person capacity for a Mars trip, but the rocket would be configured differently for a "local" flight so that'll hopefully mean far more seats. Also, they don't just blast you off and hope for the best: The BFR will use a system called "propulsive landing" to set down on Mars, so that same system will be used somewhere near you someday.
The Earth-flight portion of his presentation only took up the last few minutes of a roughly 40-minute talk, so details are scarce. We don't know how the TSA would fit into this or even a general time table.
Most troublingly, there's no word yet on in-flight snacks.