These trips sound like fantasy – or maybe science fiction – but maybe that’s not surprising when you learn who is proposing that international travel this fast might be possible.
At the 68th International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide last week, SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk took the stage for the keynote address. After laying out his new plans to take humans to Mars by 2024 aboard a gigantic rocket unofficially dubbed the “BFR,” he ended on a distinctly non-astronautical note. “If you built a ship that’s capable of going to Mars, what if you take that same ship and go from one place to another on earth? We looked at that, and the results are quite interesting,” Musk said. He then showed a video that has taken the internet by storm.
In it, travelers board a boat in New York City which takes them to a rocket launchpad in the ocean at 6:30am. 39 minutes later, they land in Shanghai at 7:39pm local time. The captions in the video propose routes all over the world — and all less than an hour long. In addition to the ones above, they include routes like London to Cape Town in 34 minutes, Sydney to Delhi in 36 minutes, and Los Angeles to Adelaide — undoubtedly a nod to the audience, since Musk had made the trip himself to attend — in 42 minutes. At one point, the screen flashed the speed of the rocket in transit: 27,000km per hour. “Most long distance trips in less than 30 minutes… Anywhere on earth in under an hour,” the final caption read.
Musk followed up after the video finished, saying “most of what people consider long distance trips would be completed in less than half an hour.” Later in the day, he added via Instagram: “Cost per seat should be about the same as full fare economy in an aircraft. Forgot to mention that.” If you’re dreaming of a future with affordable, high-speed travel, it’s coming. It may take a decade before it’s possible, but as Musk concluded: “If we’re building this thing to go to the moon and Mars, then why not go to other places on earth as well?”