SpaceX plans to fly you anywhere on Earth in under an hour using Starship
November 9, 2019
Starship's first prototypes are currently under construction at SpaceX facilities in Boca Chica Beach, Texas and Cocoa, Florida and they are being designed to support some of SpaceX’s most incredibly ambitious missions that will completely revolutionize how we live and travel.
Starship MK1 in SpaceX Boca Chica, Texas Source: SpaceX
The missions range from, a space tour around the moon by year 2023 and a sustainable city on Mars by 2050. One of the most unexpected missions of this spacecraft is that Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, envisions a future where Starship can transport us at hypersonic speed to point-to-point destinations around Earth.
Imagine travelling on board a spaceship and arriving anywhere on Earth in under an hour!
This Earth-to-Earth version of Starship would have the capability to transport 1,000 people strapped in seats. It would blast off a spaceport at sea, fly up 10,000 kilometers (6,200 miles) high through the atmosphere into the exosphere, where air resistance is minimal, travelling at Mach 25, and circling the globe in a matter of minutes.
~1000, as all seats would be “coach” & no toilets, pilot area or food galley needed. Most flights would only be 15 to 20 mins. It’s basically an ICBM traveling at Mach 25 that lands.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 26, 2019
Musk used "Mach 25" to describe the spaceship's speed, comparing the flight to an inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) flying at Mach 25 --which is equivalent to 19,182 miles per hour!
Way faster than the speed of a commercial jet aircraft that approximately flies at 600 miles per hour.
The flight would not need a food galley nor restrooms because it would be a short trip, with fast hypersonic arrivals. Musk said:
"Probably needs a restraint mechanism like Disney’s Space Mountain roller coaster. Would feel similar to Space Mountain in a lot of ways, but you’d exit on another continent."
Upon arrival to the destination Starship would turn on its tail, fire retro-rockets, to land vertically at a complementary sea spaceport in another country to disembark its passengers.
These rocket launches will be conducted at offshore locations. Musk said:
"Most Starship spaceports will probably need to be ~20 miles/30km offshore for acceptable noise levels, especially for frequent daily flights, as would occur for point to point flights on Earth."
The system will be fully reusable with Super Heavy rocket reflight possible every few hours & Starship reflight every 8 hours.
Wow, 2011 seems like eons ago! With fairing recovery, Falcon is ~80% reusable, but reflight takes several days & requires boats. Starship will be fully reusable with booster reflight possible every few hours & ship reflight every 8 hours. No boats needed.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 4, 2019
Flying from New York to Paris on a commercial airplane typically takes about 7 hours and 20 minutes, well, that same trip on board Starship would only take 30 minutes! Significantly faster!
Starship VS. Airplane Flight Duration
Los Angeles to New York
Airplane: 5 hours 25 minutes
Starship: 25 minutes
Bangkok to Dubai
Airplane: 6 hours 25 minutes
Starship: 27 minutes
Tokyo to Singapore
Airplane: 7 hours 10 minutes
Starship: 28 minutes
London to New York
Airplane: 7 hours 55 minutes
Starship: 29 minutes
New York to Paris
Airplane: 7 hours 20 minutes
Starship: 30 minutes
Sydney to Singapore
Airplane: 8 hours 20 minutes
Starship: 31 minutes
Los Angeles to London
Airplane: 10 hours 30 minutes
Starship: 32 minutes
London to Hong Kong
Airplane: 11 hours 50 minutes
Starship: 34 minutes
According to Gwynne Shotwell, President of SpaceX, they could begin offering Earth-to-Earth transport services as early as the year 2025. “This is definitely going to happen,” she said, adding that it could probably take roughly ten years and stated that tickets would cost a little more than an economy class flight but cheaper than a first class ticket.
The future is exciting!
About the Author
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.