Entrepreneur Elon Musk, who has long dreamed of creating a human colony on Mars, is planning to build a new rocket ship code named “BFR” capable of traveling anywhere on Earth in under an hour.
If the concept becomes reality, Musk said a journey from New York to Shanghai can be done in about 30 minutes. The surprise announcement means that his Space Exploration Technologies Corp, which has already disrupted the aerospace industry with reusable launches, plans to ferry humans not just to distant planets but across this one as well, setting up a potentially competitive challenge to the commercial airline industry.
“If we are going to places like Mars, why not Earth?” Musk said Friday at the 68th International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia. Toward the end of Musk’s highly technical presentation, animation played on a big screen behind him, showing scores of people getting on a high-speed ferry in New York, then boarding the BFR on a platform in the water. The spaceship then travels to Shanghai in roughly half an hour.
“Fly to most places on Earth in under 30 mins and anywhere in under 60,” Musk wrote in an Instagram post after he’d left the stage without taking questions. “Cost per seat should be about the same as full fare economy in an aircraft. Forgot to mention that.”
With many commercial satellite operators as customers, the revenue from those contracts will help fund the development of the BFR, which would be capable of carrying satellites to orbit, crew and cargo to the International Space Station, and complete missions to the Moon and Mars, said Musk. He said the BFR would contain 40 cabins capable of ferrying roughly 100 people at a time.