Budget travel to anywhere on Earth within minutes – SpaceX CEO unveils plans for transportation through rockets
Credits to rocket science, traveling to Moon and Mars is something that we are accustomed to hearing. However, it would take an ingenious mind to come up with a thought like why restrict rockets to space travel only? Why not use them to travel across Earth too?
Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, is claiming the practical application of the thought. ‘Most long distance trips less than 30 mins‘ and ‘anywhere on Earth in under an hour‘ is what he claims.
Musk chose the 68th International Astronautical Congress, as a front to reveal the company’s travel mission to Moon and Mars. By the end of his talk, he tipped about using Space X’s next rocket codenamed BFR (Big Fucking Rocket) for city-to-city trips on Earth.
Going by what Musk aims, the very thought of traveling so fast – London to Dubai in merely 29 minutes, Delhi to San Francisco in 40, Hong Kong to Singapore in 22, New York to Paris in 30, Los Angeles to Toronto in 24 – is luring in itself.
Though Musk was light on unveiling the details of the project, he claimed that traveling across Earth in a rocket would soon be a pocket friendly deal. Flying at the speed of 18,000 mph, traveling the longest distance on the planet in less than an hour, would cost equivalent to an economy class commercial airline ticket, he claimed.
But as they say, there’s no rose without a thorn, the company will have to be careful about multiple issues. How would the entire rocket travel experience end up for users? The entire concept of traveling through a rocket sounds interesting, but what about the risks involved in take-offs and landing, spaceflight stress, ballistic trajectory etc.
Experts of the field have a lot to say about Musk’s Earth-to-Earth travel:
Brian Weeden, Director of program planning for Secure World Foundation says:
You can’t fly humans on that same kind of orbit. For one, the acceleration and the G-forces for both the launch and the reentry would kill people. I don’t have it right in front of me, but it’s a lot more than the G-forces on an astronaut we see today going up into space and coming back down, and that’s not inconsiderable. Another problem with ballistic trajectory is radiation exposure in the vacuum of space.
Equating the rocket travel fare to an average air ticket cost is another concern. A recent study revealed re-usable rockets are good for about 100 flights, compared to 10,000 flights in case of commercial airplanes we use today. So in that context, Charles Miller, President of NexGen Space LLC says:
It’s probably going to be 10 times the cost per-seat. He may be 1-in-10,000 [for] loss of vehicle, but it’s nowhere near the 3-and-10 million reliability of airlines
Some other experts have also raised doubts on the cost claims made by Musk. John Olds, a former aerospace engineering professor who founded, now runs Spaceworks, a company that develops hyper-sonic flight and space exploration technology said:
A rocket-powered ballistic point-to-point is fast, I’ll give you that. But it’s expensive and complicated and, I would say, unlikely to be the final solution by which we travel around the planet
Well, the thought of transportation through rockets in itself is worth a thought, and applaudable is the plan to use a fleet of reusable rockets for city-to-city-travels. How is the company going to deliver results to match up to it’s words, that only time will tell. For now, you can sit back and enjoy the BFR Earth-to-Earth video (that demos one such super fast journey), till the company figures its way out to turn the idea into reality.