Speaking at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC), Elon Musk shared his plans to make Earth not the only home for us. Apart from that, Elon also revealed his plans to you travel to anywhere on Earth in under an hour using SpaceX rockets.
Elon Musk is the founder of PayPal but recently, he’s become more known for his other two companies Tesla which makes electric cars and SpaceX which makes rockets. SpaceX has been testing rockets going to outer space and back so that one day we can go to Mars and make that our second home.
The race to Mars and reusable rockets
SpaceX has been making progress in their tests of landing the rockets as they want to make them reusable where one rocket can go to Mars, come back and take other people then go back again and repeat.
This is cost effective as the same rocket can be used over and over again. Now, SpaceX wants to use the same concept for Earth-Earth travel using rockets. Instead of the rocket going all the way to space, it will only fly as high as the edge of the Earth’s atmosphere without entering space (suborbital space).
How traveling around Earth with SpaceX rockets would work
So you get into the rocket from a platform that’s on the sea, the rocket would launch to suborbital space, travel there for a while then come out of suborbital space and back into the earth for it to land at the chosen destination. The rocket would land on a similar platform as you boarded on then you’d get onto a boat to go to the city just as you reached the first platform from a boat.
In a demonstration video, SpaceX shows that it would take around 30 minutes to travel from New York City in America to Paris in France. Most of the destinations will take that long to travel to using SpaceX and some even faster as in the case of Hong Kong to Singapore which would take 22 minutes according to the video.
As good as that sounds, suborbital space travel is quite hard to achieve as it is difficult to come from suborbital space safely. It’s not the first time that it has been attempted. Virgin Galactic, a space company founded by Richard Branson, began to work on a spacecraft called SpaceShipTwo that would fly to suborbital space.
Virgin Galactic also tried suborbital space travel
For Virgin Galactic, you’d get into SpaceShipTwo and the spacecraft would be carried by two other standard jet airplanes until it had reached an altitude for it to launch where it would be ejected from the planes. The design of SpaceShipTwo is almost like that of an airplane so it couldn’t just take off as rockets that we’re used to seeing even though it is a rocket.
While in the early development of SpaceShipTwo, Virgin Galactic started to sell tickets costing around $200 000 for space-tourism using their spacecraft. 100 people signed up and the first flight was set for 2008 or 2009.
Due to development delays, the set date was pushed forward. SpaceShipTwo was taken for several test flights and in 2014, another was conducted but it ended tragically. SpaceShipTwo was ejected too early from those airplanes we mentioned earlier and it resulted in a crash killing one pilot and severely injuring the other.
The risks are real but if it happens, it’d be super cool
Even though SpaceShipTwo hadn’t entered suborbital space, it still shows some of the risks associated with even trying to reach suborbital space. However, if it can be done then it’d be a great thing for those who want to travel faster around the world using SpaceX and for those who’d like to take a space tour with Virgin Galactic as they’re working on an improved version of SpaceShipTwo.
Let us know what you think about both traveling around Earth with SpaceX and about touring space with Virgin Galactic. Would you like to travel to space? If you’d like to take a look at how it would work, check the video below from SpaceX.