Around the world in 30 minutes

Space-X’s ambitious trans-continental rocket transportation

Sam Kohnen, Writer

A passenger rocket capable of getting from New York City to London in around 30 minutes is one of the most ambitious Space-X projects announced by founder Elon Musk at a conference in Australia last September.

These announcements from Musk stem from the company’s plans to build a rocket called the ‘BFR’ or ‘Big Falcon Rocket.’ This rocket would replace the current Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy models, which are used to launch satellites into orbit and send supplies to the International Space Station. The idea is that the technology can be applied to transportation on Earth by 2020. Musk commented, “Most of what people consider to be long-distance trips could be completed in less than half an hour.”

Along with these statements, Musk also revealed a video simulation of what the process of boarding, launching, and landing would look like.

After viewing the video, Junior Josh Liu-Trieu said, “It is a really cool idea, but it doesn’t seem practical and would have lots of complications.” He added, “It would cost way too much.”

And that begs the question: how expensive would a project of this size be? According to Musk, the price of a ticket on the BFR “should be about the same as full fare economy in an aircraft,” with the rocket itself costing around $600 million to build, including a booster that can be cleaned and reused for multiple launches in order to cut costs.

Space-X believes that reusing boosters will cut the environmental impact of launches significantly, but Biology teacher Mrs. Duff  says that “[The rockets] will significantly contribute to climate change due to all the gases released into the atmosphere.”

She expanded optimistically, “I hope that if they have the technology, they can build these rockets better than the planes we have now and control the gases better.” According to a study by the Air Transport Action Group, modern planes produce 2% of the total man-made C02 emissions. That might not seem like a lot, but when applied to worldwide statistics, it adds up.

The BFR project is quite the task to be handled, but if successful, it could revolutionize the way people travel the Earth. “Being able to get to the other side of the world in the same time it takes to drive to the airport would cut hours or even days off of travel for things like business trips and vacations,” says Ryan Morgan, a former Long Reach student and current Aerospace Engineering student.

While Space-X hopes to begin testing by early 2020, the privately-owned space company has a reputation for missing deadlines, and with a project of this scale, the country will wait to see if the projected timeline stays on track.