SpaceX plans to use spaceships for Earth passenger transit

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SpaceX aims to replace Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy, and Dragon with one spaceship

Elon Musk was at IAC showing off his ambitious plan to ultimately make Earth an interplanetary species, and one of the new pieces of his plan he revealed was Earth-to-Earth transport using SpaceX rockets to cut down trips to almost anywhere on Earth in under an hour, and to most destinations in under 30 minutes.

The plan would essentially fly passengers up to an altitude where the craft would encounter virtually no resistance from air or wind, which would dramatically increase potential speed and efficiency in terms of fuel use.

Some of the flight times SpaceX displayed during its presentation include 22 minutes for Hong Kong to Singapore, 24 minutes from LA to Toronto, 25 minutes from LA to New York, and just 30 minutes from New York to Paris.

The demo video that SpaceX showed of this in action included an animation depicting passengers going aboard a rocket atop a launch pad in the middle of a body of water, ferried by a large futuristic looking boat. The rocket then exits Earth’s atmosphere, the booster returns to Earth and the passenger capsule continues on to its destination at a max speed of 27,000 km/h (around 16,777 mph).

Once it arrives, it executes a landing not unlike the current Falcon 9 first stage at another landing/launch pad, where passengers disembark.

Musk didn’t put any specific timeline on this particular use of the company’s rocket tech, though it did look like the future BFR craft was being used, which SpaceX is set to start building in as few as 6 to 9 months. He did later add that cost for a seat on the Earth BFR express should be about the same as “full fare economy” on most airlines today.

The BFR is a next-generation rocket and ship combined platform that SpaceX intends to create to replace all of its current rockets and spacecraft, including Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy and Dragon. By focusing on one multipurpose spaceship, the company hopes to be able to achieve cost efficiencies that make it possible to reach Mars on its projected timeline, which sets 2022 for the first cargo craft landings.