SpaceX is on track to becoming a giant of space exploration, but if Elon Musk’s latest idea becomes real, the company could turn into a real threat to a much more mundane type of companies: airlines.
New York to Paris in 30 minutes. Musk, speaking at the 2017 International Astronautical Congress, revealed plans to use SpaceX rockets to ferry people anywhere on Earth in under one hour. A video released by SpaceX suggests the plan would cut the duration of intercontinental flights from 10-16 hours down to under 30 minutes for most major destinations.
Big F****** Rocket. SpaceX will employ a new rocket, called, tongue-in-cheek, BFR, that will be able to carry up to 150 tons at top speeds of 27,000 km/h. The 106-meter-tall BFR, which will eventually replace the current Falcon 9 and the Falcon Heavy, is a cheaper and pared-down version of the Interplanetary Transport System that Musk announced last year. It will feature two independent engines, for increased safety, and Musk says its reliability would come close to that of commercial airlines.
What about the costs? Here’s the kicker: Musk said on Twitter that BFR tickets will actually be priced similarly to current airline fares. If that holds up, airlines might be in for some serious disruption. There’s a catch though – Musk did not specify how many passengers/rocket will be needed to reach that low price. It could be in the order of thousands.