SpaceX chief an­nounces plans for high-speed trans­porta­tion

The Republican Herald - - BUSINESS - by Mar­cia Dunn

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — SpaceX chief Elon Musk’s elab­o­rate plan for a megarocket to carry as­tro­nauts to Mars may have some downto-Earth ap­pli­ca­tions.

At a con­fer­ence in Aus­tralia on Fri­day, Musk said if you build a ship ca­pa­ble of go­ing to the moon and Mars, why not use it for high-speed trans­port here at home. He pro­poses us­ing his still-in-the-de­sign phase rocket for launch­ing pas­sen­gers from New York to Shang­hai in 39 min­utes flat.

Los An­ge­les to New York, or Los An­ge­les to Honolulu in 25 min­utes. Lon­don to Dubai in 29 min­utes.

“Most of what peo­ple con­sider to be long-dis­tance trips would be com­pleted in less than half an hour,” Musk said to ap­plause and cheers at the In­ter­na­tional Astro­nau­ti­cal Congress in Ade­laide.

A seat should cost about the same as a full-fare econ­omy plane ticket, he noted later via In­sta­gram.

Fri­day’s ad­dress was a fol­low-up to one he gave to the group last Septem­ber in Mex­ico, where he un­veiled his grand scheme for col­o­niz­ing Mars. He de­scribed a slightly scaled-down 348-foot­tall rocket and an­nounced that the pri­vate space com­pany aims to launch two cargo mis­sions to Mars in 2022.

“That’s not a typo,” he said, paus­ing, as charts ap­peared on a large screen. “Although it is as­pi­ra­tional.”

Two more cargo mis­sions would fol­low in 2024 to pro­vide more con­struc­tion ma­te­ri­als, along with two crewed flights. The win­dow for launch­ing to Mars oc­curs ev­ery two years.

For the ap­prox­i­mately six­month, one-way trips to Mars, the SpaceX ships would have 40 cab­ins, ide­ally with two to three peo­ple per cabin for a grand to­tal of about 100 pas­sen­gers. Musk fore­sees this Mars city grow­ing, and over time “mak­ing it re­ally a nice place to be.”

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