Elon Musk has revealed proposals for one of his most ambitious projects to date – intercontinental rocket flights for passengers that will take under half an hour.
The billionaire entrepreneur said the BFR spacecraft unveiled by his company SpaceX will be able to fly to most places on earth in under 30 minutes and anywhere in under an hour, with the cost roughly equivalent to an economy flight on a passenger jet.
The reusable rockets would apparently have a maximum speed of 27,000 km per hour (16,777 mph), although earth flights would travel at just over 7,000mph, allowing flights of thousands of miles in as little as 22 minutes.
The BFR (which stands for big f****** rocket) is a newly-unveiled spacecraft that Musk says will be able to travel to Mars, and which is due to be launched for the first time in 2022 before colonising the planet from 2024.
However, he said there was no reason why the rockets should not be able to travel to different locations on earth.
“If you build a ship that’s capable of going to Mars, what if you take that same ship and go to another place on earth, so we looked at that and the results are quite interesting,” he said. He later added that “cost per seat should be about the same as full fare economy in an aircraft”.
SpaceX claimed that it would be able to fly from Hong Kong to Singapore in 22 minutes, New York to London in 29 minutes, and Sydney to London in 51 minutes.
Musk – who also apparently finds the time to run electric car maker Tesla, develop brain-computer interfaces, save the world from evil artificial intelligence and build underground high-speed trains – said the craft would be able to hold around 100 people.
An animated video released by SpaceX shows passengers embarking on the rocket by taking boats to floating launchpads. Once in orbit the spacecraft would split from its booster and vertically land on a launchpad in another city. By re-using rockets, Musk plans to dramatically bring down the cost of travel.
Musk says the BFR would be able to replace SpaceX’s existing lineup of rockets, which are currently used for missions such as trips to the International Space Station.