No one can ever accuse Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, of thinking small. But it’s almost as though he tries to outdo himself each time he announces something new, and his latest proposal is nothing short of amazing.
Musk gave a talk at a space industry conference on Friday and revealed new plans to travel to the Moon and Mars, including a revised plan for his rockets and the development of a new multi-function Interplanetary Transport System that features a rocket codenamed BFR (for Big Fucking Rocket), which could help send a cargo ship to Mars as early as 2022. This is a new timeline for Musk, who just last year claimed he would be able to send a crew to Mars by 2024.
But Musk had another surprise at the end of his speech in the form of his latest crazy idea: using the same technology his space rockets use to speed up travel on Earth. The idea would revolutionize travel, reducing most international long-distance trips to just 30 minutes.
The video above explains how the travel experience would work with travelers taking a ferry or boat out to a landing pad situated in the ocean and boarding the rocket before arriving at any destination on Earth in under an hour. Most destinations could be reached in under 30 minutes. The rocket could send people from New York City to Shanghai in 39 minutes, Hong Kong to Singapore in 22 minutes, London to Dubai or New York in 29 minutes, and Los Angeles to Toronto in 24 minutes.
This idea is currently only a reality inside Musk’s head, but he said that he hopes to begin constructing the rocket in the next six to nine months.
According to Musk, the rocket would be able to travel as fast as 18,000 miles per hour, making it the fastest method of Earth travel ever invented. The Verge estimates that the rocket could carry somewhere between 80 to 200 people per trip, but there are no other details known, including how it would compete with existing air travel, how much it would cost, how it might be regulated, or even when it might be tested. Another thing to consider is the passenger experience. If airplanes are already uncomfortable and cause the body undue stress, imagine what the elevated speed of the rocket might cause.
Furthermore, although Musk bragged that his SpaceX’s Falcon rockets have made 16 successful landings in a row, there have been notable failures in the past, putting the safety of his new proposed method of travel into question. We’ll have to wait for Musk to clarify all of these concerns.