Since the inception of Elon Musk’s company, SpaceX, its inventions have slowly been transforming the way in which we travel, both around the globe and into space. After describing his plan to proceed with the colonization of Mars, Musk surprised those at the most recent meeting of the International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia, by announcing his intention to use the same rocket to launch city-to-city travel. The innovator announced his intention of replacing all the company’s current hardware with new technology by the early 2020’s, in September 2017, and describing this as the quickest way to travel between two places on Earth.
The rockets, known as the BFRs (short for Big F*cking Rockets) would be able to take passengers from any city in the world to another, in less than an hour. Each would be at least 350 ft with the ability to travel at 17,000 miles per hour, which is ten times the speed of the Concorde Supersonic Jet. Musk is planning to begin these journeys within the next five years, and believes that the flights could operate at the same price as a full fare economy trip, on a commercial aeroplane.
The new rocket designs include reusable launch vehicles and spacecrafts, ground infrastructure for rapid launch and relaunch, and zero-gravity propellant transfer technology which can be deployed in low Earth orbit. Musk referred to this type of travel as ‘Earth-to-Earth’ transfers, and outlined how it would be achieved by the spaceship travelling through orbit around the earth and arriving close to major cities, touching down on floating landing pads. Each BFR would be able to transport between 80 and 200 passengers, per trip.
Several details of the passenger experience are still unknown including: the percentage of overall travelers that the rockets would carry, as well as the way in which journeys would be regulated. There have also been concerns expressed about the way in which the experience would affect the human body, such as the weightlessness when the rocket is in orbit and the difference between launching a rocket and a plane taking off. The flight in the spaceship is anticipated to be like that of an intense roller coaster ride where the rocket would shoot directly into the air for a few minutes, and then descend rapidly for the next 1/2 hour to the desired destination. Other well respected individuals in the field have commended Musk on his previous contributions and they, along with the general public, anxiously await the results of this new development in the future of flight.