Better tighten your seat belts if you’re going to board the fastest civilian flying vessel in history, traveling tens of times faster than the speed of sound.


After unveiling the plan of colonizing the Moon and our Red Planet neighbor in the years to come, Space X CEO Elon Musk made another surprising announcement, this time about our planet which felt quite out in the cold during the conference last week.

Towards the end of his eloquent speech, Elon Musk told the audience how his company is working on ways to develop a long-distance travel system that will allow travelers to reach any point on the globe in less than an hour, and with expenses comparable to today’s economy airline tickets.

Sounds out of hand, doesn’t it? But the truth is experts at Space X are considering bringing this concept to life in the next six to nine months.

Musk’s plan is to utilize the forthcoming BFR mega-rocket (short for Big Fucking Rocket), the same rocket aimed at reaching the Moon and Mars, to carry a spaceship of considerable proportions into Earth’s orbit, and from there reach any place on Earth equipped with a floating landing pad, exactly as the ones used to land today’s Falcon 9 rockets.

All items including the propulsion rocket will work on the same reusability principles developed by SpaceX, and the landing pads will most likely be constructed near major metropolitan areas.

The spaceship would transit at a velocity of 18,000 miles an hour at its peak. That’s 23.5 times the speed of sound, exceeding DARPA’s HTV 2 (considered the fastest flying vessel to date) by 5,000 miles/hour (6.5 mach).

The main hull would be large enough for 80 to 200 passengers, but further details regarding the number of people per single trip, as well as the G-force issue are yet to be announced.

For now, all we have is the video released by Space X which draws this yet to come concept in big lines: The floating landing pad of the vessel is reached via boat from a dock in New York City where passengers embark the same type of rocket intended for the Mars in 2024. However, upon reaching the atmosphere, the crew doesn’t take the Martian route, but instead head off to another city on Earth after the propulsion rocket separates from the spaceship.

BFR taking off from a floating pad near New York City

The travel time certainly consolidates the idea of living in the century of speed, as the flying vessel reaches another floating pad on the other side of the planet in just 39 minutes. The video estimates other timetables like Hong Kong to Singapore in 22 minutes, London to Dubai or New York in less than half an hour, as well as L.A. to Toronto in merely 24 minutes.

Other vital aspects such as the passenger experience and the risk of blowing up during a vertical landing haven’t yet been brought to discussion. What we do know is that Space X can boast about 16  successful landings of its Falcon 9 rocket in a row, proving that safety during a landing on a floating platform will no longer be an issue at the time of the inauguration of the BFR prototype.

With some safety issues out of the picture, the only question remaining is whether or not people would want to travel at such an extreme velocity and exposing themselves to risks so far encountered only by trained astronauts.

Only time can tell of this outcome, but I bet people will stay in line to experience such a bumpy ride into the atmosphere and back, as well as proving to themselves and others that the flat Earth theory is just a timeworn myth that has been revived by the most paranoid of conspiracy theorists.

Whatever the case, the future sure looks promising in this new age of technology and futuristic aspirations.


More references – theverge.com

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